The Atlanta Braves plan to share their stadium with Jacksonville State when the Gamecocks play football against Kennesaw State there in 2018, officials announced Friday.
The game is set for Nov. 17, 2018, at SunTrust Park, officials said at the stadium Friday afternoon. The Braves opened the stadium this season in suburban Cobb County, replacing Turner Field in Atlanta.
“This will be an awesome atmosphere for a football game,” JSU head coach John Grass said at the announcement.
Mike Plant, president of development for the Braves, said negotiations are underway to televise the game.
“We’re having discussions with our Fox broadcasters,” Plant said.
And the Gamecocks won't be traveling alone. The JSU Marching Southerners will also be at the game to perform, Greg Seitz, JSU athletic director, said during a Friday phone interview.
“It was very important to me to have that,” Seitz said of the Southerners. “Imagine how they’ll fill up that stadium with their sound.”
Brian Bohannon, head football coach for Kennesaw State, said his team looked forward to facing the Gamecocks next year.
“JSU is a perennial powerhouse,” Bohannon said. “If you want to be the best, you have to play the best.”
Plant said the football game is part of a larger strategy to use the new stadium to remake Cobb as a destination area.
“One of the ways we can do that is to go beyond baseball,” Plant said. “Our vision was to do more here than play baseball games.”
Some concerts have already been scheduled at SunTrust and the hope is to bring more football there in the future, Plant said.
The neutral-site game will follow another the Gamecocks already have set for its season opener this year.
JSU and Chattanooga will face off Aug. 26, 2017, in ESPN’s inaugural Montgomery Kickoff Classic. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. ESPN hasn’t televised a Jacksonville State game since the Gamecocks’ win in the 1992 Division II championship game. JSU played on ESPN2 twice and ESPNU once two years ago during its FCS playoff run.
The SunTrust Park game will also be JSU’s second game in the Atlanta area in two years. The Gamecocks are scheduled to play Georgia Tech in Atlanta this fall.
Grass said after the Friday event that he thought the new game venue would help promote the university.
“I think it's a good venue to help with recruiting, to play in a stadium of this caliber,” Grass said. “And I think our fans and alumni will come over and make it exciting.”
Seitz also said the game would help with recruiting.
“It's important for recruiting not just for athletics but also for students,” Seitz said. “We recruit many students from that area.”
Seitz added that the venue will help excite the JSU fan base.
“We have so many fans who are also Braves fans,” Seitz said. “And so many of our alumni are in the Georgia and the Atlanta market, so this is a chance to bring us to them.”