Brooks Stadium is all ready for Coastal Carolina’s 2017 season opener Saturday night against Massachusetts … for the most part.
The school was required to expand its stadium for its first season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in the Sun Belt Conference, and the addition of nearly 5,800 seats that bring the seating capacity to about 15,500 has been completed.
On Thursday morning, the school will receive a review and inspection by a representative of the South Carolina Office of the State Engineer, who has to give the facility a certificate of occupancy in order for the Chanticleers to allow spectators for the 7 p.m. game.
“We can’t do anything until she visits,” CCU director of athletics Matt Hogue said. “We certainly feel like everything is going to be in order.”
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Construction began in early March and isn’t complete at the stadium. Crews were still working Wednesday to complete the walls around a retention pond behind seating and adjacent to the Adkins Field House near the north end zone, and to flatten and pave areas of the concourse, particularly around that pond.
Hogue expects there to be a few areas where spectators will have avoid or be diverted, “but for all intents and purposes we’ll be ready to go,” he said. “At this point we’re just trying to tie up loose ends. We’ve had preliminary inspections done that have been positive. I haven’t seen anything in the reports that would impede us from going as planned.”
This year's first phase of expansion included adding seats to completely connect seating on both sides to the field house, expanding the lower sections on both sides toward the south scoreboard, and expanding the upper deck on the east side (press box side) to match the length on the lower deck.
Next year's second phase will include adding a large enclosed luxury suite that can house 300 to 350 people with an accompanying 230 outdoor club seats, and adding an upper deck to the west side as well as additional features such as new entrances. Total seating could approach 21,000, plus additional standing capacity.
While the retention pond that is still being completed will generally be out of the way of spectators this season, it will become part of a main entry plaza with a walkway over the water after next year’s second phase.
Hogue said nearly 12,000 seats have been sold for the opener, including about 7,600 season tickets, which include purchases by corporate partners and members of the public. “We’ve been very pleased at the response there,” Hogue said.
Hogue said more than 2,000 students have claimed tickets, UMass has tickets allotted for its fans and the remaining tickets sold are single-game tickets priced between $20 and $35.
Season ticket prices include a Chanticleer Athletic Foundation donation and are $207 or $240, and additional multi-game and youth-adult combination plans are also available.
Martin likely done
It appears Jah-Maine Martin of Conway, who was going to be a sophomore running back at Coastal Carolina this fall, will not return to the football team this season and his return to the program and school in the future are certainly in question.
Martin was arrested July 10 and charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a stolen pistol. He was the driver of a Cadillac in which all five occupants were arrested and charged with unlawful carry and possession of a firearm, according to a police report and arrest warrant.
Two 9 mm handguns were found in the back seat behind Martin under a T-shirt, along with two 9 mm magazines and 16 9 mm rounds. One of the guns was reported stolen from a Conway location, the police report states.
CCU interim head coach Jamey Chadwell said in July that Martin has been suspended from the team and school.
“That’s probably a done deal right now,” Chadwell said at a press conference Wednesday. “We’re still working through the process and letting the university make their final decision. That’s where we’re at. Once they make the final decision on what the next steps are then we’ll go from there with it.
“… But you won’t see him anytime soon.”
As a freshman, the powerful Martin gained 175 yards on 27 carries for an impressive 6.3 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons at Conway High.
Kjosa to start
Former Socastee High standout Maxwell Kjosa hasn’t officially caught a pass in his two years at Coastal Carolina – one was a redshirt season – yet he has earned the starting tight end position to start the season.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder played in nine games last season and did score with a two-point conversion reception.
The Chants are hoping he displays the immense pass-catching talent he showed at Socastee with more consistency.
“He has a chance to be a big contributor. We’re going to use the tight end quite a bit,” Chadwell said. “Max’s ability has never been his issue. He has a lot of ability. It’s just been the want-to, the drive, the focus he needs to have. He’s gotten better over the last six months to where we think he can be a big contributor for us. I think eventually he can cause some matchup problems for some defenses because he’s a big guy who can really run athletically.
He knows he’s a big part of what we’re doing so the expectations on him are higher and he’s trying to live up to them, which is a good thing.
CCU interim coach Jamey Chadwell on Maxwell Kjosa
“But I think the more and more confidence he gets when he gets in a game and starts making some plays. … Sometimes when you give kids those expectations they blossom.”
Coastal and UMass have never met on the football field, but they have a connection in CCU running backs coach and UMass alumnus Bill Durkin.
Durkin played offensive line for the Minutemen from 1990-93. He was a two-year captain and consensus First Team All-American as a senior, and was later named to the Yankee Conference 50th Anniversary All-Star Team.
Durkin graduated in 1994 and spent two seasons (1995-96) on the school’s football strength staff.