Master Facilities Plan To Put USC on Map

Eric Hyman unveiled a broad sweeping vision Thursday night for USC athletic facilities that will take almost 200 million in today's dollars and an untold number of years to build.

"Our message is a road to championships," he said. "This is a blueprint where we can battle for championships. We want to recruit the best and the brightest, academically and athletically. We want to give them the support and services where they can achieve their objectives. We think this will help assist us to try and achieve that."

People standing at the entrance to the current baseball complex looking South towards Rosewood Drive will be able to have a "broad look" overlooking the entire 40 acre area of a new "Athletic Horseshoe." There will be a pedestrian connection straight from that area to the main campus that will also extend throughout the length of the re-developed area.

Once the baseball stadium is relocated, the area above and below the current baseball stadium will undergo a radical transformation. The roundhouse, the roost, and the baseball field will be completely demolished.

Across the street, the soccer stadium and field house will undergo renovations, including an addition to the field house. USC is adding Women's Lacrosse as a sport to be in compliance with Title IX regulations. The new synthetic field for Lacrosse will sit where Sarge Frye field sits today. Volleyball will move from sharing the basketball practice facility to a new free standing facility on the outskirts of the current outfield of Sarge Frye field. The softball field will be renovated, and seating expanded to 2500 seats. There will also be an upgrade of the tennis facilities, including an indoor tennis facility.

The current location of the roundhouse will become the throwing area for the "field sports" of track and field, right next to a major upgrade of the current track facilities, including seating for 2500 and a press box.

The first phase of the plans is the relocation and construction of the already announced new baseball stadium. The next phase will include an academic enrichment center, and a new locker room and sports medicine area for football.

The plans include a beautiful expansion of the North End Zone of Williams-Brice stadium, but fans looking for additions in seating at the stadium will have to wait awhile, as renovations at the stadium must occur in stages.

Coach Steve Spurrier indicated that he is in full support of the proposed changes at the stadium. The Floyd building will be torn down when the north end zone expansion occurs, so a new location for the football offices will first have to be built. The new offices will be part of a brand new third floor in the South end zone, under the stands.

Hyman stressed that much of the later stages of the plan, including the North End Zone project, are strictly proposals at this point. Proposed seating for the addition would add 6000-8000 new seats, including luxury suites of various sizes and additional club seating.

GamecockAnthem spoke with USC's athletic director after the presentation, and he filled us in on a number of the key questions on Gamecock fans' minds:

GA: Fans might perceive the number of seats being added to the stadium as a relatively low number, can you address that?

Hyman: Remember, this is all concepts at this point. That presentation would give you between 6000 and 8000. If you understand the concepts of stadium expansion, to expand beyond that you're going to go into areas that are really costly - hugely more expensive. Considering the dollars we have right now and all the issues we have to deal with… If it was all about football seating, it would be one thing. Right now it's 50 million (in actual construction costs for just the stadium expansion) then you're taking a huge step past that financially. You gotta move the football offices over because you have to eliminate all the offices. Another issue is we have to provide parking if we're going to add six to eight thousand seats. Where are they going to park? We have to move forward on the (State) Farmer's Market. Until we get that we've got to deal with some other issues first and then focus on the north stands.

GA: Do you have a specific timeline for stadium expansion, perhaps a future season you'd like to see the expansion completed by. Like the 2010 or 2011 season?

Hyman: Right now, there is no timeline USC is aiming to have the new addition completed by. Donors give what they want to give (towards a specific project), and then you look for a revenue stream to support it, you gotta do one before you do two.

GA: Do you have a timeframe for the new academic center?

Hyman: We want to move on the academic center as quickly as possible. Depends on SC procurement laws, it will be fast-tracked as quickly as we can possibly do something.

GA: Tell us about the progress of the capital campaign.

Hyman: We are in a quiet part of it right now. What's our vision? With this, now we can go out and present it to people. I have been encouraged by the response of people to help us financially. It has been spectacular. I think we're going to continue to be encouraged as time goes on.

GA: Where will the Carolina Coliseum fit into the picture now?

Hyman: The reason the plan took a little bit longer is because you had to do your due diligence and see if the Carolina Coliseum would fit into what we wanted to try to do. We spent five or six months discussing just that issue. Obviously, athletics will not be as much a part of that as it might have been. For the long term, that's for the university to address. The concept was absolutely phenomenal. There were other issues to consider. The part I liked about it was it only put you ten minutes from the Horseshoe. The way the University of South Carolina is growing, it is growing in that direction. If you look at it 15-20 years from now, it's going to be right in the heart of the university.

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