USC And ECU Game In Charlotte
Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium is providing the "neutral playing field" for a season-starting match between the University of South Carolina and East Carolina University Saturday night. Both schools are trying to mobilize - and possibly expand - their fan base here. Carolina and Duke have proven they can turn out crowds in Charlotte, but can USC? "Columbia's closer to Charlotte than Chapel Hill is," says James Wolf, a 2005 USC graduate and president of the Gamecock Club in Charlotte. "This is an opportunity for the city to realize 'Hey Gamecock nation is here.' This is just our opportunity to shine. We've never had an opportunity here - and this is finally it." Wolf's school spirit is the main reason the Duke Energy Center is lit up in USC colors and a Gamecock billboard looms on I-77. Wolf says there are about 8,000 USC alumni in the Charlotte area and seven percent of this year's freshman class came from here. "That's not intimidating," says Randy Evans, a 1991 graduate of ECU and president of the Pirate Club in Charlotte. "Charlotte is the third-largest Pirate Club chapter for us. Our alumni tailgates (for Saturday's game) are sold out. We've sold out multiple parking lots, so we're gonna be here in force to enjoy the game." Evans estimates there are about 4,000 ECU alumni in the Charlotte area, but Pirate fans are known to travel for their team and Bank of America stadium is familiar territory. ECU's football team has won three of the last four games it played here. Both USC and ECU say they've sold their allotment of tickets for the game. Tickets are still available for the general public. ECU comes in as the underdog against USC which is ranked 12th nationally.