While the construction within Coastal Carolina’s athletics complex the last several years brought the school much-needed softball and baseball stadium upgrades, it also exacerbated the parking crunch around the football and baseball facilities.
So with the last touches finally wrapped up on Springs Brooks Stadium, including the completed boardwalk around the outfield wall, the university is now busy addressing that parking issue.
And when fans return to Coastal Carolina’s Brooks Stadium this football season, they will notice a wholly different look to those primary lots with an increase from roughly 200 to 286 available parking spaces there, according to numbers provided by the school.
“We will gain some parking because it’s now one full lot,” Chanticleers athletic director Matt Hogue said. “I think from a pedestrian standpoint and just a traffic-flow standpoint it will be much more user friendly. How the medians are laid out and the spaces, I think folks will be able to get to their spot easier.
Never miss a local story.
“Obviously it’s connected into the baseball project and it finally puts a bow on all of the activity we’ve had in that area, and I think it will provide a much better experience for someone who’s got a teal pass or has parking in that general area.”
The redesign involved tearing up the old medians in the main lot between the football and baseball stadiums and cutting down the pine trees – but not the protected oaks – behind the outfield wall. Fans used to park under and around those trees, but there will now be a structured parking lot in that area.
“The whole area was torn up, obviously trees were removed from University Blvd., and the entire area was designed into one big lot with a completely different design,” Hogue said. “You’ve got more narrow medians. They’re more modern, I guess you could say. You can maneuver around them and between them better.
“We do end up with a net gain of spaces. We also will be able to park RVs in a more reasonable way than what we did before. They’ll actually have their own individual spots behind baseball. I think it will be a big upgrade for people.”
The Chants’ first home football game is Sept. 19 against Western Illinois.
Meanwhile, there is a long-term plan to reintroduce landscaping to the area as well.
“There’s a landscaping plan so over time it will be an area that I think will be even more picturesque and beautified as a lot of that landscaping grows in,” Hogue said. “It will become a nice, even park-type atmosphere around those areas, around the baseball stadium and the parking lot.”
Wake Forest on the basketball schedule
The 2015-16 Coastal Carolina basketball schedule is not finished yet and may not be released until the end of August, but most of the marquee matchups are in place.
In addition to hosting Auburn this season as part of a two-for-one series that started with the Chants on the road last year, Coastal Carolina will launch another two-for-one contract with Wake Forest by visiting Winston-Salem, N.C. this season.
The Chants will actually play at Wake Forest in consecutive seasons before the Demon Deacons visit The HTC Center in 2017-18.
The two-for-one arrangement has been one the Chants and basketball coach Cliff Ellis, leveraging his connections in the sport, have used previously to lure power-conference programs like LSU, Ole Miss and Clemson to Conway. And Hogue believes there will be even more to come in addition to the current Auburn and now Wake Forest contracts.
“We continue to have conversations for potential two-for-ones in the future,” he said. “We don’t really have any [other] schools that are locked in at this point, but that will continue to be a strategy. Obviously utilizing the reputation Coach Ellis has and his stature as a coach we’ve been able to establish those in the past. I think we’ll have some more and it will probably be some really solid names from power five schools; we just don’t have anything [else] locked in yet.”
The Chants do have some other basketball contracts of note finalized, though.
They will launch new four-year home-and-home series with College of Charleston and Wofford this season. In both cases, Coastal Carolina will host back-to-back home games against those programs in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons while bookending the series on the road.
The Chants are 11-35 all time against College of Charleston with the last meeting coming during the 2012-13 season. Meanwhile, according to program records from both schools, Coastal Carolina and Wofford have never met in men’s basketball.
“We’re restarting the series with College of Charleston, which is a plus,” Hogue said. “It’s an opponent people want to see. It makes sense, we’re that close together, we should be playing. We’ve got an opportunity to restart a series with Wofford. So I’m excited about the way our schedule could potentially all come together this year. …
“In the next couple of years I think our home non-conference schedule is going to start to look pretty strong.”
One reason the Chants’ full 2015-16 schedule has not been released yet is because the school is waiting on the finalized Big South conference schedule.
That will include a change this year with two early conference games in November or December, thus potentially affecting the layout of the non-conference schedule.
Another positive development, meanwhile, is that with the conference voting to limit its programs to scheduling no more than three non-Division I teams, there will at least be less of those games that make fans groan each year when the schedule is released.
Finally, there’s a possibility the Chants could add another marquee game or two by joining an early-season tournament, Hogue said, though nothing is finalized on that front.
“We’re looking at a couple tournament possibilities that would give us that, but that hasn’t really been ironed out yet,” he said. “We’re still talking to some folks and trying to work out some contracts. That’s really the last piece of it.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.