Aug 292014


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
  • 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.

Gameday tips

All parking lots open six hours prior to the game. Most lots near the stadium are reserved for Pirate Club permit holders.


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.


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.

Aug 292014


Posted: Aug 28, 2014

By Josh Birch – email


For most Pirate fans, the most important thing is winning the game.

For Chris Sutton, a Lieutenant with the ECU police, safety comes first.

“Safety is our number one priority and while we want to see the Pirates win, we don’t want to be the story after the game,” Sutton said. “We want the Pirate win to be the story.

To create a safer environment, ECU police are unveiling several new initiatives, including staging ambulances around tailgate sites, adding more law enforcement agencies who will help patrol the lots and stadium, and offering students an alcohol free tailgate location for several games this year.

But there are several things police can’t control, like the weather and kickoff time.

William Meggs, an emergency physician at Vidant, says hot weather combined with heavy drinking can lead to problems.

“Particularly early in the season when it’s hot and people are sweating and they get a little dehydrated, and alcohol will not keep them re-hydrated,” Meggs said.

Meggs says they can see anywhere from 2 to 10 patients each game with alcohol related problems in the ER.

To offset that, Sutton says they’ve remained proactive.

“Early in the week, information got sent out about starting on Monday or Tuesday to stay hydrating your bodies for Saturday,” he said.

With more than 40,000 fans expected at the home opener, Meggs says friends should look out for each other to make sure everyone is safe and can enjoy the game.

Aug 292014


August 28, 2014

East Carolina University announced this week that Pirate football season ticket sales eclipsed the 20,000 mark for the eighth-straight year.

The announcement comes as the Pirates prepare to take on North Carolina Central University at 8 p.m. Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Season tickets and tickets for the game are still available.

The 20,000-plus trend began in 2007, when fans purchased 22,000 season passes and broke a record of 16,258 set the previous year. In 2008, 21,160 were sold, 21,293 were sold in 2009, 23,436 in 2010 and 24,188 in 2011.

Since the 7,000-seat expansion of Dowdy-Ficklen in 2010, which pushed the total capacity to 50,000, the Student Pirate Club has also seen growth and has sold out its allotment of 10,000 tickets for the fifth consecutive year.

The team also set records for total attendance during the 2011 season, with 300,069 people in the stands collectively and an average attendance of 50,012 per game, the university reported. The numbers bested previous records of 297,987 and 49,665, both set in 2010.

Last year, the Pirates also topped Conference USA in average attendance for the sixth-straight season and reports it stood first nationally among all Bowl Championship Series non-automatic qualifiers in attendance. That ranked 45th among all 120 FBS programs.

East Carolina will open its inaugural campaign in the American Athletic Conference against North Carolina Central.

Also scheduled to visit Greenville this fall are AAC members SMU (Oct. 4), UCONN (Oct. 23), Tulane (Nov. 22) and UCF (Dec. 4). The Pirates wrap up non-conference play by hosting North Carolina on Sept. 20.

Season tickets for all home games are still available with ticket packages starting at $160.50 and can be purchased by calling the ECU Athletics Ticket Office at 252-737-4500, through the Online Ticket Center, or by visiting the ECU Athletics Ticket Office at the stadium.

Aug 292014


August 29, 2014

Roger Lee Creech

Roger Lee Creech, 84, of Ayden, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. He was born to the late Beatrice and William Aaron Creech on June 29, 1930 in Johnston County. Roger graduated from Selma High School. He graduated with honors from Atlantic Christian College in 1957. He received his Masters in Mathematics from the University of Illinois in 1961. He also did post graduate work at the University of South Carolina.

In 1958, he married Anne Moore. They, along with their five children made Ayden home. In addition to enjoying his family, Roger enjoyed playing checkers and participated in tournaments throughout the state. He was an avid ECU Pirate Football fan and Carolina Panthers fan.
Roger was a member of the faculty in the Mathematics Dept. at East Carolina University from 1963 until he retired in 1996. He greatly enjoyed his students and his years teaching.

Roger is survived by his wife, Anne; daughters, Carolyn Creech and husband, Brian McGinn, of Farmville and Stacy Gunnels and husband, Warren, of Odenton, Md.; sons, David Creech and wife, Laura, of New Bern, Durwood Creech and wife, Lynn, of Ayden and Howard Lee Creech and wife, Judi Rowe Creech, of Ayden; grandchildren, Robert Lee Creech of Atlanta, Pam Creech of Wilmington, Raven Creech of Ayden, Steve Rowe of Portland, Ore., and Madison Gunnels of Odenton, Md.

Roger was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters; and four brothers.

The family will receive friends on Saturday evening from 6-8 at Farmer Funeral Service-Ayden and other times at the family home. A private Memorial Service will be held at a later date. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to The Ronald McDonald House, 529 Moye Blvd. Greenville, NC 27834.

Arrangements entrusted to Farmer Funeral Service-Ayden. You may send online condolences at

Aug 292014


Aug 28, 2014

A big part of college for many is Greek life. Now a new study is focusing on some of the problems that are associated with fraternities and sororities.

The North American Interfraternity Conference, representing 75 international and national fraternities, has finalized three committees to study hazing, alcohol abuse and sexual violence on college campuses. 35 organizations at East Carolina University are represented by the conference.

We spoke to members of Greek life who say there’s a stigma about fraternities, including drinking and hazing.

“Everywhere in college people drink,” says Senior Alex Stackhouse, a Phi Kappa Alpha. “Your friends are going to peer pressure you to drink if you go out, whether you’re in a fraternity, sorority.”

Chris Stansbury, ECU’s Director of Marketing and Communications for Student Affairs, says the study should help.

“They’re trying to empower our offices of Greek life with more statistics, more information and more education,” says Stansbury. “So this is something we embrace. We look forward to this type of study being done because it’s going to help us.”

ECU has a “no hazing” tolerance policy on campus and investigates one to three hazing incidents each year.

Aug 292014



August 29, 2014

When preparing for the 14th season of Freeboot Friday, organizers of the event took a long look at what could be done to make the event more enjoyable all around.

To that end, Uptown Greenville’s Tiffany Gay and Bianca Shoneman worked to find solutions for the long lines that were sometimes a problem at previous Freeboots, and to expand the event’s family-friendly offerings.
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Freeboot Friday is an alive-at-five style event hosted by Uptown Greenville that serves as a public pep rally before each home ECU football game. As in previous years, Freeboot will continue to offer live music, Jolly Trolley and bucket-truck rides that have been popular in the past.

Uptown has added another bounce-house for kids in addition to the two that have been present in previous years.

“We felt that we’d been having the same bounce-houses for several years and we wanted to add a new attraction for kids and families. We wanted to also decrease the lines,” Gay said. “We know that those are very popular spots for Freeboot, which we’re really excited about. We’re glad that families feel entertained and welcomed and that there’s an area for kids to really enjoy and get excited about. So we wanted to expand that, decrease the lines and just provide more fun for the whole family.”

There also will be games, face painting and hula-hooping, and Purple the clown will be back to entertain children.

Uptown also found what it hopes will be a solution for lines waiting for beer — switching from draft beer to cans.

“We got some feedback last year that the lines were really long,” Gay said. “It’s a positive thing that it’s a really great event and is attracting a lot of folks, but we wanted to speed up the lines so people can get served a bit faster and keep their beverages cold a bit longer.”

Coastal Beverage will be supplying beer which will include Miller Light, Coors Light, Yuengling, Blue Moon and a rotation of craft beers. Wine also will be available for purchase.

Varsity Club will be at the event selling pizza, and Sup Dogs will be selling hot dogs. Uptown is also still pursuing more food vendors.

Dub Addis, an Ethiopian-roots Raggae band, will perform for the inaugural Freeboot today.

“We think it’s really just fun, happy music,” Gay said. “Folks of all ages and from all places can just really get into it and enjoy it and have fun. It’s a fun way to transition from summer into fall.”

At intermission, the Marching Pirates, the ECU dance team and cheerleaders will make an appearance.

“We’re really excited to celebrate and inaugurate ECU football season with ECU families — it’s family weekend at ECU, so we’re going to be welcoming parents and students, residents, visitors to come out and enjoy the official pep rally of home football games,” Gay said.

The remainder of the Freeboot schedule includes partnering with the Pirate Club for the Sept. 19 Freeboot, at which the Beatles tribute band Liverpool will perform. The David Dixon Trio is scheduled for Oct. 3, The Ragbirds will perform Oct. 24 for “Freaky Freeboot Friday” and The Monitors will close out the season on Nov. 21.

Uptown will also bring back the free shuttle bus on game days, which will transport fans from downtown to the stadium and back. This year, there will be two pickup locations: Sup Dogs and Five Points Plaza. The shuttle will continuously run three hours prior to the game, throughout the game and two hours afterward each home football game, including Thursday games.

Aug 292014


Posted: Aug 28, 2014
By Katie Harden, Digital Journalist


Everyone is looking for a deal and sometimes it’s as easy as checking-in or posting a photo to your social media accounts, according to a new app that helps you save money and connect with your friends.

Stealz is a smart phone app that helps you earn points by posting on your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Once you check-in to a business that is within the Stealz network for the first time, you automatically get something free. Sometimes it’s a dessert, sometimes it’s a side, none the less, it’s free and you earn a point just by letting people know you are at the business. You can earn a point every time you visit the business and check-in.

Depending on how you connect with the business online, either through a Facebook or Twitter photo, you earn more points. These points can be redeemed for discounts.

Founders of the app say this helps you save money and essentially does the social media marketing for the business. It also gives the customer a reason to come back.

“Businesses aren’t in love with the Groupon model,” says Stealz Co-Founder Brent Nolan. “They don’t like just those deal hunters. They want people that are going to come back time and time again so anyway to get their customers coming back sooner than later, they’re all about.”

Stealz is free to download and is plugged in to businesses across the country but was homegrown right here in Eastern North Carolina. Nolan is an East Carolina University grad and he says nothing makes him more proud than seeing his app used at his alma mata.

“Here in Greenville, I’m excited to say that I graduated from ECU in 2009,” says Nolan. “It’s been pretty cool seeing other alumni use it, I even saw my academic advisor use the app several times and how cool is it to build something and then see somebody else who helped you graduate using your app? It’s pretty cool.”

Stealz is connected with many businesses in Greenville including Mellow Mushroom, Moe’s and Cold Stone Creamery. Nolan says his team is always working to expand the network so that customers may take advantage of even more deals.

Businesses involved say they love connecting with their customers in such a mutually beneficial way.

Aug 292014


August 29, 2014

East Carolina will make a school-record 17 national television appearances during the upcoming men’s basketball season, ECU’s first in the American Athletic Conference.

The Pirates will play nine games against teams that participated in last season’s NCAA tournament, including two against defending national champion Connecticut. East Carolina also has two games each against Cincinnati, Memphis and Tulsa along with a non-conference contest at Atlantic Coast Conference power North Carolina on Dec. 7 in its first nationally-televised game of the season (ESPNU).

The ESPN family of networks will broadcast 14 of the Pirates’ 18 AAC games. The other four will air on the CBS Sports Network.

In addition to playing at UNC for the second time in the last three seasons, the non-conference slate is highlighted by a Nov. 16 home game against UNC Asheville and a Dec. 20 matchup at UNC Wilmington. UNCA and ECU have not played since 1997 and the Pirates and UNCW will face off for the first time since 2008.

League play kicks off on Dec. 31 with a home game against Tulane. Houston, Tulsa, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Memphis, South Florida, UConn and Temple make up the rest of ECU’s American home slate.

The Pirates’ first league road game is at USF on Jan. 3, followed by a trip to Cincy on Jan. 6. East Carolina also travels to Memphis, Connecticut, Temple and UCF.

ECU tips off the season in Minges against N.C. Wesleyan in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 14. Showcase play resumes with the quarterfinal round in Estero, Fla., on Nov. 24.

Women’s schedule

East Carolina’s women’s hoops team plays its first American Athletic Conference home game against defending national champion Connecticut on Dec. 31.

The Pirates begin play in the American on Dec. 28 at South Florida at 6:30 p.m. in a contest that will be televised nationally on ESPNU. ECU’s home game against USF on Feb. 15 is also scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU.

A pair of tournaments highlight the opening month of the Pirates’ schedule. ECU begins the season against Fairfield at the University of Rhode Island Tip-off on Nov. 14 in Kingston, R.I. On Nov. 27, Syracuse awaits the Pirates in Freeport, Bahamas, on the first day of the Junkanoo Jam.

After three non-conference road games to start December, ECU hosts Norfolk State on Dec. 20 in its final AAC tune-up game.

In addition to UConn, league foes Tulane, Memphis, Tulsa, Houston, USF, SMU, Cincinnati and Central Florida visit Minges Coliseum. The AAC road slate features games at Connecticut on Jan. 28 and at Temple on Feb. 28.

— ECU Media Relations