As Coastal Carolina University puts the finishing touches on the Brooks Stadium expansion, a smaller facility across University Boulevard is ready to be replaced.
For nearly four years, Coastal’s Board of Trustees has been trying to build a better soccer stadium. Initially, Coastal officials projected the project would cost $5 million. To pay for it, they planned to use $3.5 million from the Student Housing Foundation and a $1.5 million gift from the family of a CCU student. They said the facility would include better seating for both fans and media, an improved playing field for the athletes, and locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s teams. It would be built across U.S. 501 next to the Stevens Tennis Complex.
But the private donation fell through in 2017. Last year, Coastal officials approached Horry County Council about contributing to the soccer stadium, but no agreement between the county and Coastal ever materialized, said county spokeswoman Kelly Moore.
Coastal officials have continued searching for a donor, and the project remains in limbo.
The finance committee of Coastal’s board discussed the issue last week. Coastal Carolina Chief Financial Officer David Frost suggested reducing the cost of the soccer stadium from $5 million to $3.5 million to accommodate the available budget.
Board member Oran Smith didn’t like that idea.
“Just stab me in the heart,” he said. “You can’t build anything decent of the level of our soccer programs for $3.5 million.”
The board discussed taking any excess money from the Brooks Stadium expansion and using it towards the soccer stadium project. However, Frost noted that the funds for the Brooks Stadium expansion are extremely tight.
“The thinking was [the $5 million] would allow us to make the stadium look a little nicer,” Frost said. “[It would be] a more European-style like stadium that included shading for the crowd. So we thought that we could cut back on the niceties of the stadium and still not have to cut back on anything that affected the players.”
Ultimately, the board deferred making any decisions about reducing the cost of the stadium until its October meeting.
Both Chanticleer soccer programs are preparing for their 2019 seasons. The teams still use the away side locker rooms at Brooks Stadium because their current facility doesn’t have any.
Since 2010, the men’s soccer team has been a dominant force in Division I competition. The team ranks fifth in all-time wins since 2010 with 132 and trails only Akron, North Carolina, Maryland and Creighton – all teams that have made it to the NCAA College Cup.
The men’s team has appeared in all NCAA Tournaments since 2010 except for last season. The team has also brought home four Big South Tournament titles and two Sun Belt Tournament titles. Two players have been listed as semifinalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the award that honors the best player in college soccer.
On the women’s side, coach Paul Hogan failed to reach 10 or more wins for just the second time in his seven seasons as head coach in 2018. As he enters, his eighth season, he has seen the program grow to a contender in the highly-contested Sun Belt Conference.
The team has appeared in two Sun Belt Championship games in the past three seasons.