The fan experience has rarely been in sharper focus than at the University of South Carolina this week, after low water pressure at Williams-Brice Stadium caused issues in restrooms and at concessions stands during the Gamecocks’ home game Saturday against Kentucky.
A 445-word letter to fans from USC director of athletics Ray Tanner explained Tuesday that a valve on an underground water line outside the stadium caused the problem, which was addressed immediately and since rectified. It also mentioned that long lines at concessions stands would be mitigated at future games with additional kiosks set up to offer specific items. The letter even went on to address complaints that DJ music in the stadium was too loud.
“I have heard from many of you concerning issues about your experience on game day. You should always have an enjoyable time when you visit one of our venues, especially Williams-Brice Stadium,” Tanner wrote, adding later, “We invest a lot of time and effort planning to create a better atmosphere and game day experience for all of our fans. From concessions to the 2001 entrance to in-game music and videos, we want to make Williams-Brice Stadium the best place to watch a game and the toughest place for opponents to play.
“Our goals are high. I want us to be the best at everything we do. When we don’t reach our goals, it is disappointing. I promise you, we will work diligently to make your visit special to watch the Gamecocks play.”
The letter failed to go far enough for most fans responding to its appearance on Twitter. Individuals chimed in with claims that fans fell down in restrooms where toilets overflowed, as well as tales of sold-out concessions points of sale and traffic concerns. Some claimed the DJ music was too loud, while others said it wasn’t loud enough — and that at least it was better than the USC band. Video board operation came under fire, as did a malfunctioning flame-thrower.
“Talking season is over,” tweeted one individual. “You had all year to plan better experiences for the fans. This was a complete failure. Get it together please.”
The fact that Kentucky won the game (23-13) was not lost on the USC fan base, and one fan opined that defeat drove much of the fan experience backlash: “Such complainers...some valid complaints but Had we won I bet all this nit pickey crap would of been a non issue.”
Another assumed an even greater glass-half-full perspective, tweeting, “Lets be thankful and appreciate what we have for a moment. The results aren’t always a win but we have a great thing here. Spurs up!”
The Gamecocks — and Williams-Brice Stadium — get a chance to bounce back Saturday when USC hosts Louisiana Tech.