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CHRONICLING ECU & C-USA SPORTS
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View from the 'ville
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

By Al Myatt

Ticket sales jumpstart stadium plans

By Al Myatt
©2008 Bonesville.net
All rights reserved.

An expansion is in the future for East Carolina's Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium at the East end of Bagwell Field that will add as many as 5,000 seats to the 43,000-seat facility.

ECU athletic director Terry Holland said the addition could be in place by the 2010 season.

"We had to make sure the season ticket demand was going to continue," Holland said Saturday at ECU's football media day in Harvey Hall of the Murphy Center.

The Pirates are expected to sell out their season ticket allotment again this season, although, unlike the 2007 home schedule, there are no home dates with North Carolina and N.C. State to drive sales.

Holland placed the cost of the first phase of stadium renovation/expansion at $24 to $30 million. Plans call for the addition to be consistent with the present architecture of the stadium.

"Cost depends on how much we do with offices and suites," Holland said. "It also depends on how far they let us go toward the street (West Berkley Road in front of Elmhurst Elementary School)."

If the stadium upgrade becomes a reality in 2010, an unofficial compilation of East Carolina's future schedules by Bonesville.net indicates that the tentative home opponents that season would include N.C. State, Navy and four Conference USA foes.

Different setting for opener

ECU's season-opening football game with Virginia Tech will be played under different circumstances than last year's 17-7 Hokies win in Blacksburg.

Last year, the Virginia Tech community was in the healing process from a tragic killing spree on campus the previous spring. The Pirates generously donated $100,000 to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund in pregame ceremonies.

The teams will kick off their 2008 seasons at noon in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday, August 30.

"It's not going to be the emotional game that it was a year ago," said ECU coach Skip Holtz. "It was a great atmosphere to have the opportunity to go up there for a lot of our players, especially when you talk about a lot of our guys in the secondary and other players who played for the first time.

"That's not exactly where you want to go up there and get baptized is at Virginia Tech. This year our players are real excited. They understand that Virginia Tech is a great football team. They're a great program. They reload. They've got an awful lot of talent but we stood toe-to-toe last year and we competed with them.

"That gives this team a little bit of confidence going into this upcoming game. Having the opportunity to play in Charlotte, I know it will probably be about 2 to 1 from the ticket standpoint with Virginia Tech fans. Having an opportunity to play at Panthers Stadium, playing in the state of North Carolina and having an opportunity to go over and play on the western side of the state in front of many of the fans that we don't have the opportunity to play in front of very often, I think it will be an emotional, exciting game.

"I think it's important that this team understand the challenge."

The Hokies' No. 15 national ranking in the coaches' poll and a national audience on ESPN give the Pirates a chance to jump into the national spotlight at the outset of the season.

Unlike last season, the Pirates will have two experienced quarterbacks available for the first game. ECU had to prepare Brett Clay, a back-up to suspended Rob Kass, in the 2007 opener. Patrick Pinkney emerged from virtual anonymity to lead the Pirate offense, and he was sensational the following week in a 34-31 home win over North Carolina.

Pinkney and Kass both stepped up at various junctures during an 8-5 season in 2007 that included a 41-38 win over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.

"The difference between this year and last year is the number of players that we return that have some game experience," Holtz said. "At that point, Brett Clay and Patrick Pinkney had never taken a snap. You don't know what you're going to get. You don't know how a quarterback is going to respond."

Homecoming for Lindsay

The game in the Queen City will be special for ECU running back Dominique Lindsay, who played at powerhouse Charlotte Independence on the high school level.

"It's going to be like the biggest game I've played in," Lindsay said. "I mean senior year in college, playing in my hometown in front of the hometown crowd, national audience against a nationally-ranked team – I couldn't ask for a better start to my senior year."

Son of Shank a Spartan

Former ECU player Kort Shankweiler, son of Pirates offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler, is apparently planning to follow in his dad's footsteps into college coaching.

The younger Shankweiler is serving as a graduate assistant at Michigan State.

"He's getting a heavy dose of learning how to be a coach right now," said his dad at media day on Saturday. "He spent last year as receivers coach at the Coast Guard Academy."

From there, it was on to East Lansing.

"He's doing all the grunt work," said the elder Shankweiler. "He's working from 6 a.m. to 11 at night. He's getting a good dose of Big Ten football and learning what hard work's all about."

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

08/05/2008 04:59:18 AM
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