Dominating Columbia’s southern skyline is the largest of the University of South Carolina’s athletics facilities, Williams Brice Stadium. From a distance the football stadium’s shape, with its angled lighting supports extending over doubled tiered decks, has been likened to a trap ready to spring on unsuspecting prey.
Williams Brice Stadium’s grandeur belies the facility’s modest beginnings in the 1930s. Prior to 1934, the Carolina football team typically played at Melton Field on campus. With a crowd capacity of only 7,000, this venue proved insufficient for special games such as “Big Thursday” between USC and Clemson College. For this annual showdown the teams would battle one another at the state’s fairgrounds, which boasted seating for 15,000 at its old wooden bowl. Seeking improvement, alumni and city of Columbia officials began a movement to erect a new stadium. Their efforts came to fruition by October 1934 as Municipal Stadium with a capacity of 18,200 opened. In 1941 the city deeded the property to the university and the facility subsequently was renamed Carolina Stadium.
Following years of sporadic enlargement and improvement, Carolina Stadium became known thirty-one years later as Williams Brice Stadium in honor of Martha Williams Brice, whose bequest of $2.75 million enabled the structure to seat 72,440 fans, while featuring a VIP lounge, a president’s box, a modern press box, and improved locker room, training, and medical facilities. Additions followed in 1995 and 1996 that included updated executive suites and press boxes, a football office complex, and increased seating that has allowed Williams Brice Stadium to hold as many as 85,000 spectators.
Edens, Ruth J. It Took an Act of Congress: Martha Williams Brice Bequest for the Williams Brice Stadium. N.p., 1995.
Griffin, John Chandler. The First Hundred Years: A History of South Carolina Football. Atlanta: Longstreet, 1992.