It’s the most wonderful time of the year, aka the return of Gamecock football! As we gear up for a fresh season, whether you’re a devoted fan who never misses a game, a returning alum looking to relive your college days or traveling to support the visiting team, we’ve got the 411 on can’t-miss spots around Williams-Brice Stadium and special traditions to enhance your gameday experience in Columbia SC.
All aboard the Cockaboose Railroad for tailgating the luxe way! Each garnet train car is decked out with brass chandeliers, flat-screen TVs, air conditioning and more. If you don’t feel like being fancy, be sure to check it out anyway, as it makes for a perfect photo opp.
George Rogers Statue
The best of both, this one’s a landmark that celebrates a Gamecock legend. The 1980 Heisman Trophy winner, Rogers is the first University of South Carolina player to have his jersey retired while still at school and several of his records remain to this day, including his 5,204 yards as running back. A statue honoring his accomplishments was unveiled on the Springs-Brooks Plaza surrounding the stadium in 2015. While you’re there to see #38, be sure to also check out the giant bronze Gamecock sculpture that was unveiled in the plaza a year later.
Head over to one of the popular tailgating spots, Gamecock Park, and line up on either side of “Garnet Way” before the game to wish the team, cheerleaders and the marching band the best as they make their way into the stadium.
The phrase most often uttered when meeting up with friends on gameday is, “Meet me at the rocket.” Standing tall and easily identifiable at the entrance to the South Carolina State Fairgrounds is a real Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missile named Columbia that was given to the City of Columbia in the early 1960s by the US Air Force. Despite the heavy crowds, you’ll never lose track of your group so long as the rocket remains standing.
For more than century, Jaco’s Corner sat nestled at the corner of Bluff Road and Rosewood Drive near the stadium. What began as a gas station became a neighborhood bar and has now reopened as J’s Corner after an extensive update to the space. Hang out in the outdoor area that’s equipped with a TV tower, cornhole boards and plenty of tables and chairs.
“If It Ain’t Swayin’, We Ain’t Playin’”
This iconic phrase was first spoken by Joe Morrison in 1983 when the then-new east upper deck was swaying by as much as a foot during an especially exciting game. Since then, shock absorbers have been added to the deck, but it’s still known to (safely) sway every now and then when the crowd gets hyped.
During football season, one surefire way to get the fans fired up is hearing the first strains of either “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Sandstorm” fill the stadium. Consistently signified as one of the most exciting pregame college football entries in the country, the mascot Cocky makes his explosive debut to the mounting notes of “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Then, get your rally towel ready for pounding beats of “Sandstorm,” which is played before the opening kickoff, as well as after every Gamecock touchdown. With the crowd jumping up and down and twirling the towels in the air, the energy will give you chills every time.
Post-game, stick around and join in singing our alma mater, complete with offering a traditional “toast” to the school. Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee! (Seriously, chills.)
With Gamecock football serving as the social event of the season in Columbia, you better believe we’ll show up dressed to the nines. Don’t buy it? Well then this quote from ESPN College Gameday says it all – “If SC isn’t the essence of Southern hospitality, I don’t know what is. Those women sure know how to dress. Of course, in the South, a college football game is practically a formal event. Everyone, especially the ladies, gets all dolled up. But USC takes it to a whole new level. That football crowd is like something you would see in Vogue magazine.”
Looking for more #RealColumbiaSC travel inspo? Check out our Instagram.