When Coastal Carolina made the decision to join the Sun Belt Conference and begin playing FBS football, one of the many hurdles the Chanticleers had to clear was an upgrade to Brooks Stadium. Two years since becoming a full FBS member, the renovations and upgrades the Brooks Stadium are complete. CollegeAD recently had the opportunity to speak with Coastal Carolina Director of Athletics Matt Hogue about the program’s transition, fan experience, coaching changes, and more.
Editors Note: The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
CollegeAD: What did the upgrades and renovations to Brooks Stadium envolve?
Matt Hogue: It was just short of a three-year process dating back to late 2016. One thing that we wanted to do from the beginning, is we wanted our premium area to be more of an open floor plan which is what we’ve done. We also have some club seats which you can purchase and have your own spot, but our area is going to be able to handle anywhere from 350-400 folks. It’s the center mezzanine area, if you will, of our west side.
On either side of that, we are selling individual loge boxes, so it gives us a lot of space to work with. Plus, there will be some extra areas in that middle mezzanine area where we’ll have our game day sponsors. That whole rim of the stadium will now become a premium area.
The good thing is as we go along we’ll have an opportunity to modify that or adjust on the fly and do something different. For our primary boosters and donors who have taken advantage of our premium areas, it’s a big upgrade because they were basically in the endzone up to this point in time. And now to have something that is obviously a little more traditional at the 50-yard line and with your normal site views, it’s going to be a major upgrade for what they’ve had available to them.
CollegeAD: You’ve experimented with alcohol sales in a few venues, but that has not translated into general sales at football games. What are your thoughts about providing alcohol sales in general areas at Brooks Stadium?
Matt Hogue: You mentioned the pilot program at baseball games has worked well for the past couple of years. We’ve expanded that into basketball, I think we’ve seen it as a positive addition. I think our fans like it.
Does it make sense at football? I think there’s a lot of things that you have to consider: How does it impact the premium areas that we have? Is that a detriment to what we’re trying to do to get people into those areas or is it an enhancement? Those are the types of things that we’re trying to iron out and take a look at.
The good news is that when you try to make these decisions, a lot of the time you’re going to try to look at: how has it gone so far? What’s the history been like with what we’ve offered? We’ve been pleased with how that’s gone. I think that sets the stage. Does that get us all the way to the finish line? I don’t know, but we at least have some good data and a good track record to work off of from other sports.
I don’t know if there’s any specific timeline right now, we have a couple of steps that we need to get out of the way first before we start looking at that operationally.
CollegeAD: Your football program is in its third year of FBS play, and off to a nice start, including a win over a Power Five opponent earlier this year. This offseason coach Joe Moglia decided to step away from the field, what made Jamey Chadwell the right person for the job?
Matt Hogue: One thing you’ll see about how we’re structured is obviously Coach Moglia has oversight with what happens in football, and one of the things thats always been a major hallmark for him, which is why he’s always been successful in business, is he always has a succession plan. That’s a big part of what you see happening here.
When Jamey came in, obviously he was not just identified as someone who would be a good coordinator or someone who would just add value to our staff, but with the idea that maybe one day he becomes our head coach depending on what the conditions and circumstances are. He’d been very successful as a head coach, so I think you have to realize that was part of the thinking.
Now I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the series of events would go the way that they have; I don’t think that was ever the plan, but then again, that’s why the succession plan is so important.
CollegeAD: What exactly does coach Moglia’s role as the Chairman of Athletics entail?
Matt Hogue: The Chairman role is something that’s been in place since 2014 going back to when I was moved over. While people may have gravitated more towards it during the change over in January, it was already in place. It’s unique, but it’s a great collaboration between the two of us because when you have someone of his stature, someone of his capabilities, he doesn’t just go off to the side and hang out. He’s got that role in terms of oversight.
The Chairman role means that he and I are going to talk about things that are going on, we’re going to talk about trends in the business, we’re going to talk about direction. We work very closely with our president in terms of that collaboration. It’s been incredibly helpful for me, and it has helped me grow and become a better leader. It’s unique, and it’s something that can give us an advantage, and it’s positive in many ways.
CollegeAD: Lastly, what’s next for Coastal Carolina athletics?
Matt Hogue: What’s next for us is going into that chapter of our transition is out of the way, our stadium construction is out of the way, and we’ve reached that plateau of preparation activity, transition activity, and we’re looking forward to taking that next step, becoming a contender in the Sun Belt, in football particularly.
We’ve proven our weight in a lot of other sports; we’ve integrated fairly nicely. We’ve won a fair number of championships, and we want to move forward and win more of those.
Like every school, we’re going to focus more inwardly now. What are we going to do in terms of support? What do we need to look at in terms of facilities that become more supplemental in nature versus competitive in nature? That’s something every school is considering these days. And then try to be great representatives of our institution and build for future success.