Publisher's note: The author of this post, Jamie Smith, is a contributor to ECU News Services.
ECU fans will fill Dowdy-Ficklen stadium this Saturday for the first home football game of the season against Gardner-Webb. | Photo: Rhett Butler
East Carolina University's first home football game against Gardner-Webb Saturday marks the beginning of a new era for Pirates fans. ECU Athletics worked to create an atmosphere unlike any other, making a game in Dowdy-Ficklen an even more memorable and fun experience.
"One of our main priorities has been working on ways to engage our fans at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and we think fans will enjoy what we have planned for 2019,"
said Jon Gilbert, ECU's athletics director. "We have identified areas where we can improve the fan experience. Our staff has met with donors, current students, young graduates, local businesses and supporters from across eastern North Carolina, listening to how we can provide a more enjoyable experience at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium."
Mike Houston, ECU's new head football coach, and the TowneBank Tower will be the most visible additions for fans this season. The $60 million southside renovation added 1,000 premium seats and will host ticketholders for the first time this weekend.
Alcohol sales, a clear bag policy and a new Kids Zone behind sections 10 and 11 have been added to give options for individuals of all ages and ensure that everyone at Dowdy-Ficklen has a great time, Gilbert said.
"We can't wait to have our fans in Greenville and host them on campus Saturday,"
For the first time, ECU will sell beer and wine at home football
games. Several UNC System schools have approved alcohol sales policies for their home game events. Those 21 or over must present a valid ID to obtain a wristband that has to be worn to purchase, possess or consume alcohol.
"Fans who consume alcohol must have their ID on them at all times in case stadium personnel or law enforcement asks to see it when they are walking around or in the stands with their drink,"
said ECU police captain Chris Sutton.
One alcoholic beverage per person may be purchased per transaction. Sales will begin two hours before kickoff inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium with all sales scheduled to conclude at the end of the third quarter.
Throughout Pitt County, new penalties are in place for those who may try to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. Those charged with using a fake ID will face consequences including 40 hours of community service, a court appearance and notification to the university by law enforcement. If charged a second time with using a fake ID, they will lose their driver's license for 30 days.
ECU Police, Alcohol Law Enforcement and ECU's Division of Student Affairs have worked together to create a video
to help educate students on the new penalties.
Clear Bag Policy
This season ECU is implementing a clear bag policy
at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. One clear plastic bag no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches or a one-gallon, clear, resealable plastic storage bag per person will be permitted. Fans will be allowed a small clutch purse not to exceed 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches.
"Our goal with this policy is to provide a safe and more secure facility for our fans while also enhancing the fan experience with a quicker process to get into the stadium. We believe this policy is an important enhancement to the security measures already in place,"
Gilbert said when the change was announced in July.
Diaper bags are allowed if accompanied by an infant or young child. Each member of a family, including children, can carry an approved clear bag and clutch purse into the stadium.
A complete list of new experiences fans can expect during ECU's six home football games can be found on ECU Athletics' website