Carolina Baseball: Take your seats!

South Carolina's new baseball stadium is joining the age of corporate entertaining as a top flight venue for college sports. For the first time, well-heeled Gamecock supporters can enjoy watching their baseball team in luxury seating or even $35,000 suites, but the entrance price for the average fan has gone up as well. Read inside for a breakdown of where you can sit, and for how much.

The house that Tanner built still does not have a name, because a corporate sponsor who has paid for the naming rights has not yet been chosen - or at least publicly revealed. The same goes for the new press box inside the new home of South Carolina baseball. How much the fans will pay was revealed June 18 at the USC Board of Trustees Intercollegiate Athletics Committee meeting.

The cost of season tickets in 2009 will remain at the same $210 as this past season, but season ticket holders will pay an "annual seating donation" (ASD) for each seat, ranging from $25 to $1710 per seat. This is in addition to their season ticket cost and their annual Gamecock Club membership dues.

After the full board of trustees approval is granted at their next meeting on June 27, all fans who have previously held baseball season tickets will be mailed a preference form, indicating where in the new stadium they want seats, also indicating at what level seat donation they wish to give. Current season ticket holders will have priority within their giving level.

There will be an August 15 deadline to return the preference forms. In October, baseball applications will be sent to all fans who returned a preference form, with a December 1st deadline to return that application, along with their ticket and seat donation payment. Season tickets will be mailed in January.

USC athletic director Eric Hyman shared with the board that the new stadium is currently 45-50% completed.

Should the new stadium be sold out, the seat donation revenue would generate $570,240, and season ticket revenue would total 1,066,590, for a projected total annual revenue of $1,636,835. USC expects to initially raise "approximately 75% of the total annual maximum revenue," giving an initial projected annual revenue of $1,200,000. This would leave USC baseball losing somewhere between 2.2 million and 2.6 million next season. College baseball programs are almost never profitable, but the projected USC numbers are higher with the cost of the new stadium. The bond to pay for the stadium came in at just under 5%.

Century Club members will be eligible to purchase 2 seats. Roundhouse Half-Scholarship and Full-Scholarship members of the Gamecock Club will be eligible to purchase four tickets. Silver Spur and Garnet Spur members are eligible to purchase six tickets, and Golden Spur and Platinum Spur members can purchase eight season tickets. Diamond Spurs can purchase ten tickets. Lifetime Silver Spur and Full-Scholarship members are also eligible to purchase six tickets.

Here's how the seating breaks down. You can reference the chart above as to where each level of seat will be. The least expensive seats have been designated the "black" seats, and are situated on both sides of the field, beginning approximately along the part of the field where the outfield begins. There will be a total of 1,746 black seats, a number that may vary slightly when the seats are actually installed. Each black seat will pay an annual seat donation (ASD) of $25. All seat donations are in addition to the cost of the season ticket. Black seats could total $43,650 in seat donation revenue.

There will be approximately 1,807 Garnet seats, with seats on both sides of the field along the infield. Those seats will have a $50 ASD cost, and could provide as much as 90,350 in seat donation revenue.

There will be approximately 1,250 Gold seats, which will be behind home plate, and each ASD cost for gold seats will be $75. The gold seats could provide $93,750 in seat donation revenue.

The seats closest to the action will be the 113 box seats, located in a private section of two rows behind home plate, in front of and below the gold seats. Each box seat will have an ASD cost of $115, and box seat holders must be Full-Scholarship donors or above.

The price jumps considerably to $1500 per ASD at the next level, which are the 103 club seats, located in the club areas at both ends of the skybox, that contains the press box and the suites. Club seat holders must be Silver Spur members and above, and will have the opportunity to purchase reserved parking if the donor buys four club seats. The club seating area includes an indoor lounge and outdoor seating areas with indoor and outdoor televisions and access to food, beverages, and a cash bar.

Corporate America can now see what all the fuss about Ray Tanner's club is, and do it in style. There are a total of five suites, two on the first base side of the press box and three on the third base side. The annual suite agreement is $35,000, plus the $2,520 cost of 12 season tickets for each suite, for a total of $37,520 each season. Suite holders receive two parking passes. The baseball suite policy will mirror those of the football and basketball suites.

Suite holders must maintain a Garnet Spur membership or higher. They will have outdoor seating for ten with each suite, along with indoor lounge seating. The suites also have indoor and outdoor televisions, as well as a refrigerator and bar area. The suites and club level have their own private restrooms.

There will be a total of 5,700 seats in the new stadium, not counting the grassy berm areas that will be available for viewing the game. Student, faculty, and staff seating will be extracted from the other seats, but where they will sit has not yet been finalized.

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