Gamecocks first SEC home football game brings thousands to town
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — The football season has already been underway for a few weeks, but the first SEC game in Columbia this season kicks off Saturday night.
Williams-Brice Stadium is expected to be a packed house tomorrow night as the South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to town.
“I love it here. Always have,” said ESPN personality Ryan McGee. “I’ve always loved the relationship between the school and the city.”
With SEC Nation in town and around 80,000 Gamecocks fans expected at Saturday’s game, preparing for a successful weekend includes the Columbia Fire Department.
“Everybody knows their role. We’ve been doing it for years. It’s just a matter of going down there and doing it,” said Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins of the Columbia Fire Department.
However, now there’s a new duty for them. With South Carolina football games falling under the city of Columbia’s mask ordinance, fans will be required to wear masks at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday.
“I realize there’s going to be a lot of people down there. I’m quite sure there will be a lot of people without masks on,” Jenkins said. “However, we’re not going to be walking around the stadium pointing people out and trying to get them to put a mask on.”
The chief says that with only three fire marshals present at the game, there is too much for them to do than act as mask police. One will be monitoring the scoreboard.
“We always keep a fire marshal down there because when USC scores, they shoot fireworks off,” the chief said. “Hopefully, they’ll be shooting off a lot of fireworks.”
Jenkins also hopes that fans will follow the mask ordinance and keep others safe.
The SEC Nation crew is already on board with the mask requirement.
“I”m all for it. I wear a mask. I’m the mask and hand sanitizer police at SEC Nation,” McGee said. “I’m like everyone’s grandma so yeah I’m all for it.”
In addition to wearing a mask, Chief Jenkins has other advice for people to help the fire department do their job and to make sure game day goes smoothly for all.
“People out cooking should be cooking and grilling properly. Make sure people aren’t blocking emergency lanes not just to get fire trucks in but EMS units as well,” Jenkins said. “We want to make sure they aren’t blocking those emergency lanes and parking in front of hydrants.”
While the game is not until Saturday night, Gamecocks fans have already descended upon Columbia. Chief Jenkins hopes it will be an incident free weekend.”
“That’s what I’m hoping,” he said. “Go Gamecocks.”