Redefining Game Day Experiences

Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC

Imagine: Gamecock fans coming from all over, waiting to enter the Williams-Brice Stadium to experience the excitement of collegiate rivalry, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the game of football. Everyone wants an experience whether it be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, creating moments and memories with family and friends, or a place to take pictures that will last a lifetime. Wood+Partners Inc. provided these experiences all into one project: The Springs Brooks Plaza at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The purpose of this project was to renovate stadium grounds and enhance game-day experiences; improve pedestrian safety and circulation; and provide public spaces for use on non-game days. Wood+Partners was hired by the University of South Carolina, and the Athletics Department to be a part of the design team that consisted of civil engineers, architects, site engineers, structural engineers, and irrigation consultants. Before this team came together, the 14 acre site was almost entirely covered in impervious surfaces; had unsafe pedestrian circulation mixed with vehicular traffic and parking; and had poorly defined stadium entrances with inadequate queuing. It was clear that the landscaping and architectural integrity of this area needed Wood+Partners help. The scope of work that Wood+Parnters was involved in as the landscape design architects, consisted of providing a master plan and design through construction phase services for all hardscape and landscape elements. The elements that were included are; paving, monuments, walls and fencing, pedestrian walks and plazas, stadium entry gates, transoms and columns, vehicular access points and parking, and landscaping. Construction for this project started in November of 2014 and the new Stadium area was opened on September 11th, 2015.

The Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina receives thousands and thousands of visitors each year for games, entertainment, and student functions within the university. With the stadium being an off-campus site, there was a need to provide consistency with what the main campus established. This would guide the design patterns that Wood+Partners needed to be able to connect the two. The farmers market project that Wood+Partners had previously completed, prior to the University of South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, set the tone for what designs needed to be carried over. It also set the tone for identifying what improvements needed to be made at the stadium. With careful and thoughtful consideration the design details were repeated, tying the two projects together. The correspondence of designs made the entire area come together beautifully, making the project provide visual links to the University of South Carolina’s campus core.

To ensure that all grounds were considered and thought of, there were many different areas that this project needed to cover. The areas of the project began at the entry gates to the stadium, new perimeter fencing, walls and monuments that were designed and strategically placed. The placement of these walls and monuments were intended to create separate zones for ticketed patrons and non-ticketed public areas. There were new plazas, promenades, and walkways that were arranged to specifically guide fans to newly articulated entry points with improved queuing areas. There were new ramps and walkways within the stadium gates that allowed ticketed patrons to circulate internally around the stadium and field, without having to leave the stadium. The pedestrian circulation now connects to the adjacent “Cockabooses”, to better integrate the game-day experience into the promenade. Vehicular circulation after construction concluded was completely removed from the stadium grounds, with the only exception of game-day emergencies, broadcasters and reporters, and service vehicles. The experience and safety of those who would enjoy the newly designed areas were our priority, next to the revitalization of the stadium entrances and overall appeal of this popular off-campus site.

The challenges faced were plenty, but it did not take away from the shared goals and vision for this campus project. One of the major challenges faced by the team was the scheduling of it all. There were permits to be approved which often takes quite a bit of time to receive. If there were any parts of the designing process that had not received approving, there was no way of completing it without the notion to do so. There were times where teamwork certainly had to make the dream work. Construction was a large portion of the challenge faced due to the time constraint for the stadium. This project had a little less than a year to be completed and ready for fans to attend football games. The construction work was not able to begin until the final game of the season was played, and had to be completed by the start of the following football season. The resolution of these circumstances came from staying on top of all scopes of work, communication between each party involved, and having the end-goal in mind. With the hard work and dedication of everyone involved with the process, the Springs Brooks Plaza at Williams-Brice Stadium was completed September 11th, just in time for the season to begin.

The community’s reaction to the project was one with excitement, fulfillment and eagerness to enjoy the surrounding area of the stadium. It was also an affirmation to the work everyone had put into it, getting it to the state of satisfaction for the community. The improvements made to the Williams-Brice Stadium had transformed this previously industrial feeling block- into a campus icon, strengthening ties to the University of South Carolina’s core campus and helping to revitalize the area. Gamecock fans and visitors can now circulate around the stadium through new and improved pedestrian promenades with generous plazas, walkways, lawns and open spaces. Local residents, college students and game-day fans are able to enjoy a beautiful park-like setting with public spaces and four acres of new lawns and plantings. This park-like site is now used throughout the year by visitors from all over who frequent the stadium grounds to walk, exercise or even relax and enjoy lunch. Without the help of the community, our partners and design team, the city board members, University of South Carolina, University of South Carolina Athletic Department and so many more made this an experience and an unforgettable project.