By Bobby Burns and Abbie Bennett
August 28, 2014
At least 45,000 people are expected to fill Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Saturday and pack tailgating areas prior to East Carolina University’s first football game of the year.
The Pirates will take on the North Carolina Central University Eagles in an 8 p.m. contest that will be nationally televised on
ESPNews. Parking lots open six hours prior to kickoff.
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The ECU ticket office reported that 40,000 seats had been sold as of Thursday, and expected another 5,000 to be sold today. The stadium’s capacity is 50,000.
Law enforcement expects traffic to be heavy before and after the game, and between 100-150 officers from eight agencies will be on the lookout for underage and excessive drinking, ECU Police Department Lt. Chris Sutton said Thursday.
EMS units will be present throughout the game in all tailgating areas to respond to medical issues, he said.
“This is not something that the ECU Police Department and East Carolina can pull off on its own,” Sutton said at an 10:30 a.m. news conference at the stadium. “It takes a collective effort … While it’s a great economic impact for the city, community and university we can’t do it with out those external partners.”
An alcohol-fueled brawl in the Student Pirate Club tailgate lot injured a 23-year-old alumnus prior to last year’s season opener against Old Dominion on Aug. 31. Two people were charged in the incident and banned from campus.
This year, the university has created an alcohol-free tailgating area at the request of students, Sutton said. No alcohol will be allowed in the area between the soccer, softball and baseball stadium, south of Dowdy-Ficklen.
Sutton said students wanted an area in part to coincide with Parents Weekend, which is this weekend. The university will maintain the area for future games if it is successful, Sutton said.
A late start and warm temperatures predicted for Saturday’s game had Sutton encouraging fans to start hydrating early. Drinking lots of water will help mitigate the affects of heat and alcohol, he said.
Only beer and malted beverages are allowed in the tailgating areas. Liquor is not allowed, Sutton said. No alcohol of any kind is allowed in the stadium.
Officers from the Greenville, Winterville and Pitt Community College police departments will assist ECU police this year along with officers from the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office and State Highway Patrol. Also joining the effort this year will be the Ayden and Newport police departments.
Law officers will have two command centers, including a mobile unit supplied by Greenville police. ECU officers will be minding the Student Pirate Club lot with help from a platform elevated by a scissor lift truck.
Officials are not expecting inclement weather outside of temperatures in the 90s. However, the stadium will be evacuated in the event of lightning or several storm warnings.
Sutton said fans will be directed into several areas inside the stadium and into Minges Coliseum and the new basketball practice facility adjacent to the stadium.
A video will be played on the large screen at the stadium to educate fans on evacuation procedures he said.
Traffic is expected to be heavy around the stadium, particularly Charles Boulevard and East 14th Street. Sutton said driving restrictions will be the same as last season.
Fourteenth Street will be closed at least four hours prior to game time between West Rock Springs Road and Elm Street.
Parking on the north and south sides of 14th Street from Elm Street to Berkley Road will be by permit only. No vehicles will be allowed in the area unless they have a visible parking pass or 14th Street access pass.
All travel restrictions will be in place three hours prior to kickoff and remain in effect until about an hour and a half after the game ends.
Saturday marks East Carolina’s first football game as a member of the new American Athletic Conference. Better cellular service, new entertainment and new concessions are among other new features at Dowdy-Ficklen this year.
- The pregame show starts 20 minutes prior to kickoff and will begin with the “Storm is Coming” video followed by PeeDee’s customary “Bad to the Bone.” The marching band will unveil its new video with the Pirates’ new team entrance production set to begin six minutes before kickoff.
- Sportscaster Brian Bailey of WNCT-9 will patrol the sidelines during all home games and conduct interviews to be featured on the stadium’s video board throughout the contest.
- The stadium will have 40 additional cell points to improve mobile phone signal so fans can interact with one another via their favorite social media outlets. Pizza Hut’s interactive promotional squad will make its debut in the upper deck for giveaways during every time out.
- Two new concession stands will be accessible outside the stadium for tailgating and will be open from 2-5 p.m. Saturday and one hour prior to the start of remaining home games. The stands will be located outside Gate 10 and adjacent to the bullpen on the first-base side of Clark-LeClair Stadium.
- Items for sale will include 20-pound bags of ice, Dippin’ Dots, peanuts, bottled soft drinks, bottled water, Powerade and Cracker Jacks.
- Gold Bucks now will be accepted at concession stands located in the Boneyard section with two registers on hand.
- For East Carolina’s conference opener against SMU on Oct. 4, a commemorative game program for the Pirates’ inaugural game in the American Athletic Conference will be on sale.
- Pirate fans can get autographs and take pictures with East Carolina mascot PeeDee the Pirate for one hour starting two-and-half hours prior to kickoff at Gate 5.
- Padded chair backs will be available to fans in the purple seats section and can be reserved by going to PirateSeats.com.
- The university will host alcohol-free tailgating events on Sept. 20 and Oct. 23 at the bottom of College Hill.
- For fans interested in traveling to any of the Pirates’ six road games, the ECU Department of Transportation offers a ride-sharing network called Zimride.
All parking lots open six hours prior to the game. Most lots near the stadium are reserved for Pirate Club permit holders.
LIMITED PUBLIC PARKING
Parking for fans without reserved parking passes will be available in the Carol Belk Building lot along Charles Boulevard and in the gravel lots along 14th Street for $20 per vehicle. Spaces will be first-come, first-served. Access to the lots along 14th Street will be shut down four hours prior to kick-off.
The Uptown Greenville organization and Wells Fargo Bank are offering a free shuttle service to the stadium area for fans who want to park in the downtown area. The shuttle stops at University Book Exchange, Winslow’s Market and Deli, Sup Dogs and the Varsity Club in downtown Greenville. It will run three hours prior and two hours after the game.
Fans who need accessible parking assistance can park on campus in the lots in front of Christenbury Gym/Brewster Building/Fletcher Music Center along 10th Street just west of the Elm Street intersection with 10th Street. Passengers will be able to ride shuttles to the stadium and back to their cars after the game. Vehicles will only be admitted to the Christenbury lots with a valid state issued handicap-parking pass that must be registered in the name of one of the vehicle’s passengers. Ownership of the placard is subject to verification.
Gates will open two hours before kick-off. Ticket scanners will be used at all gates. Spectators are asked to have their tickets ready for scanning and to arrive early to avoid long lines and the potential for a delayed admittance.
Fans are not permitted on to the playing field during or after the game without credentials.
Purses, back packs, diaper bags, etc., are prohibited from stadium if they are larger than 10-inches cubed. Boxes will be located at each gate to measure all bags.
If you need assistance in the stands, send a text message to the fan assist program. Text “ECU” to 94597 and stadium personnel will respond. Message and data rates may apply.
Umbrellas are not permitted in any seating area.
POST GAME TRAFFIC
No traffic will be allowed west on 14th Street from Elm Street. All traffic exiting from the C.M. Eppes parking lot will be diverted west on 14th Street and turn right onto College Hill Drive to 10th Street.
All traffic exiting from Berkley Road will be diverted east onto 14th Street. Fourteenth Street from Berkley Road to Elm Street will be eastbound traffic only. The center lane will be sent east on 14th Street crossing over Elm Street out to Greenville Boulevard and the right lane will turn right or south at Elm Street. Traffic leaving the stadium area on 14th Street will not be allowed to turn north on Elm Street. Traffic traveling south on Elm Street will have to go to Greenville Boulevard. Turn around cutouts will be closed from 14th Street to Greenville Boulevard.
Traffic traveling south on Elm Street at Greenville Boulevard will not be allowed to turn right to travel west onto Greenville Boulevard. Motorists will only be able to travel south on Elm Street or turn east onto Greenville Boulevard.
No traffic will be allowed east on 14th Street from West Rock Springs Road.
Charles Boulevard will be closed to southbound traffic at 14th Street. All southbound traffic on Charles from 10th Street will be diverted west on 14th Street toward Evans Street.
At Greenville and Charles boulevards no traffic will be allowed north on Charles. Traffic traveling north on Charles Boulevard from Red Banks Road will be diverted right onto Greenville Boulevard.
Traffic exiting the stadium area onto Charles Boulevard from the east side (stadium side) will have to travel north until they reach 14th Street. Traffic exiting onto Charles Boulevard from the west side (Carol Belk Building/Stratford Road side) will have to travel south until they reach Greenville Boulevard. No U-turns will be allowed on Charles Boulevard from Greenville Boulevard north to 14th Street.
Pedestrians will need to stay on the sidewalk on Berkley Road from Blackbeard’s Alley (rear stadium entrance/exit) to the railroad tracks near 14th Street. Pedestrians are asked to use the marked crosswalk to cross 14th Street due to vehicle traffic that will be exiting at the same time on the same route to 14th Street.