CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After a run of more than 20 years, the lights are about to go out at the stadium on Daniel Island one more time.
The Charleston Battery are set to play their final game at MUSC Health Stadium on Saturday night when they host Bethlehem Steele FC with a playoff spot on the line.
The team sold the venue earlier this year to an Atlanta properties company for almost $6.5 million dollars. Now, with the final game almost here, the team and the fans have been looking back at some of the iconic moments of what started out as Blackbaud Stadium.
“It meant everything, even to the league, to the growth of the sport. You didn’t even realize that it was that big in that moment in time.” Battery head coach Mike Anhaueser said.
When Blackbaud Stadium opened in 1999 it made history as the 1st modern era stadium in the U-S designed just for soccer.
“When (former Battery owner) Tony Bakker built this, he was gambling and betting on the sports in the area” former Battery President Andrew Bell said.
The venue opened with a bang on April 29th of that year as the Battery got a win over Atlanta. A night Anhaueser will never forget.
“I remember the opening like yesterday, to be honest, Rashard Miller, a former College of Charleston player, scored the 1st goal ever at this stadium, it was huge crowd, I think we were sold out.”
The 1st championship at Blackbaud came in 2003 when the Battery won the USL A-League title with a 3-0 win over Minnesota. Battery legend Paul Conway scored a goal in that victory...
In 2004, a new tradition began with the start of the Carolina Challenge Cup, a 4 team round-robin event that saw MLS teams come to visit the Lowcountry. Over the years, some of the biggest names in soccer took part including Freddy Adu, David Villa, and Kaka...
More championships would also come, in 2010, the Battery beat Richmond to win the USL 2nd division title. 2 years later, they’d beat Wilmington for the USL Pro Championship.
The stadium would start to reach international audiences as well with exhibitions against teams from the English Premier League. 1st against the Bolton Wanders in 2010 and then with the stadium renamed MUSC Health in 2015 against West Bromwich Albion
And the Battery wasn’t the only team to play on the pitch on Daniel Island. The US Women’s national team played 3 exhibitions against Mexico in 2002, 2005 and 2009. The US Rugby team played 3 qualifying matches against Canada in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
Westling legends Ric Flair and Jeff Hardy took part in a TNA event in 2010 and the Major League Lacrosse championship game took place in 2018.
In 2011, the Zac Brown Band began the Southern Ground Music and food festival only at the stadium. Over the course of the next several years, artists like Eric Church, Kenny Rogers, and Willie Nelson were among dozens of acts to take part.
But in the end, it will always be remembered as a soccer stadium, the Battery’s stadium. A place where traditions were born, fans came together and a franchise made history.
“It’s a lot of mixed emotions, excited by the possibilities of what could be, but there’s a lot of memories here that are hard to leave behind.” said Mike Buytas who serves as the President of the team’s fan club, The Regiment.
“It’s all memories, and again, that’s fantastic, I’m sad but again, we have the history and hopefully that carries on and we make it even bigger and better whatever happens in the future” Anhaueser said.
“If you go back through some of the names that have played here, it really is an iconic place in American soccer history.” Bell said.