CCU looks to expand Brooks Stadium, fill seats

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – On Tuesday afternoon, Coastal Carolina athletic officials met with architects in charge of the Brooks Stadium expansion. Athletic Director, Matt Hogue, said he hopes this will be the last full meeting before sending the plans to the state engineer.

Hogue said one of the major challenges in expanding the stadium is it’s location.

“We do have a somewhat challenging footprint, no question, where we’re located at the corner of the two roads,” said Hogue, referring to Highway 544 and University Boulevard.

Hogue said there are a lot of factors behind the scenes that need to be addressed as an architect looks at the project, including how fans will get into and out of the stadium and ADA requirements.

The first phase of expanding the stadium is to upgrade from about 9,200 seats to 15,000, which is required of paid-attendance for NCAA rules when transferring to the FBS, and should be completed in 2017.

The second phase will add about 5,000 more seats in 2018.

“We’re really confident,” said Hogue. “We have the momentum to get where we need to get.”

The other challenge that comes with adding over 10,000 new seats is finding ways to fill them all.

“There’s always going to be a lot of variables that come into play that affect attendance,” said Hogue. “I think what we have to be consistent on is, across the board, we’re meeting the goals we want to meet and I think we’re on our way to doing that.”

Hogue said, on average, attendance was down this year. However, they have seen major growth over the last three years.

CCU has a three-pronged strategy to get fans to the stadium in the next few years. The first involves targeting students and the second involves targeting the local fans but expanding out of Horry County and the Grand Strand.

“We’ll be the only FBS football option within a 2 hour drive,” added Hogue.

The third part of the strategy is targeting fans from the visiting teams.

“The teams we’re playing, the visiting fan-bases are significantly larger, and we do expect that they will be bringing fans into town,” said Hogue.

The Athletic Department will be sending a survey on the “Game Day Experience” within the next few weeks and says they will use responses to continue their planning of the updated stadium.