CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - It all seems quiet at Coastal Carolina University's football stadium now, but the university is ready to start the bidding process for the expansion and renovation of the football stadium within days.
"That's the stage we're at now. In a matter of days we'll have a contract, hopefully, ready on the street, ready to be bid on and hopefully that will accelerate the process of construction," Matt Hogue, CCU's director of athletics, said.
In August, the state allowed the issuance and sale of revenue bonds to go toward the renovation of Brooks Stadium at CCU.
However, the school cannot exceed $22.9 million in bond revenue. The project is expected to cost almost $32 million.
Hogue said engineers and architects are currently going over the final steps before putting out the bond. He said a bid will be chosen by January and, at earliest, construction on Brooks Stadium could begin in February 2017.
One reason for the expansion and renovation is because CCU joined the Sun Belt Conference. The step up now makes the football team part of the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS eligible.
"Next football season, 2017, is our first year at the FBS level as we complete our transition in to the Sun Belt Conference," Hogue said. "Obviously we have to meet requirements from the NCAA in making that transition in football. One of those is an attendance requirement, so in order to do that we have to have more seats."
Hogue said the stadium will have 15,030 seats. The FBS upgrade also means intensified recruiting and 22 more scholarship opportunities.
"This is a collaboration with the local community and our local market. It's pretty special; there's only 130 schools in the country that have an FBS program," Hogue said. "There's fewer cities and communities in the country that have an FBS program. So for that to be in Myrtle Beach, that's just one more gem to add to all the other things we enjoy about this area, and makes us a place that's attractive for people to live."
He added that CCU has begun and will continue to tap in to the community for support to help lessen the projected $10 million deficit to finance the project. Advertising began in the summer to solicit private funding, which includes ticket sales, sponsors and athletic foundation donors.
"We want our fans and our community and market to understand - you know we need them to - we need this to make this work and I think they'll all rise to the occasion," Hogue said.
The university has seen an uptick in money pledged and donated to the athletic foundation. Hogue added the school is in full force when it comes to utilizing different channels for support. He said to expect a new advertisement campaign to start at the beginning of 2017. One specific championship, the College World Series, helps funds in more ways than one.
"It's immeasurable what that does for you. It helps us get in to the hearts and minds of folks in this region and beyond," Hogue said. "And you know, that's what you're trying to do. We're trying to make this university a national brand and we've been successful in doing that in many ways. But when you have a national championship, it just magnifies and accelerates the ability to do that. And it's helped our other programs realize what they can achieve as well. They work towards that every day, but now you have that extra boost of confidence that comes with what baseball achieved."
Hogue said there's various ticket bundles available to increase sales on the athletics website. They can be found here.
Phase two is expected to be complete in time for the 2018 football season. Hogue said to expect an upper deck and new suite on the west side, as well as some of the "premium aspects" of the entire stadium project.
For more background on the Brooks Stadium renovations click these related stories:
FCS 'top five' stadium - January 2016
Funding cuts for stadium - May 2016
Financing approved - August 2016