If you haven’t already caught wind of the news, let me catch you up. It has been well-known that Clemson plans to keep pace with ever improving, ultra-competitive ACC by building a basketball-only practice facility across from Littlejohn Coliseum. An official rendering of what it may looks like is shown below.
Before leaving his position as Georgia Tech’s AD for the same position at Clemson, Dan Radakovich, oversaw construction of the Yellow Jackets’ new basketball arena, McCamish Pavalion. With that experience, he is highly qualified and I am confident in his judgement leading the charge as the Tigers now work on upgrading their own basketball facilities.
The big news is that these plans are on hold as the Board of Trustees looks into the viability of renovating or even replacing Littlejohn Coliseum, making the outlook suddenly much more extravagant than the original $50 million in facility upgrades.
I, like Mickey Plyler, am somewhat mixed on this. He provides great evidence that a new facility, regardless how fanciful, doesn’t always lead to more on the court success (see UVA). Moreover, Clemson hasn’t shown the ability to consistently “pack the house.” 10,000 seats seems the perfect capacity. I fear building a larger arena only to end up looking like Wake Forest playing a non-conference opponent in front of 7,000 empty seats.
Terrible showing by students AND season ticket holders tonight.
— Angry Clemson Fan (@AngryClemsonFan) January 30, 2013
The Georgia Tech game (and win) was sparsely attended, but it was just three some odd years ago that Clemson hosted College Gameday before a big matchup with Duke. The Gameday broadcast was one of the loudest Digger Phelps had experienced, and as was always the case in those years (back in my day), the crowd come tip-off was incredible–loud, intimidating, and 10,000 strong. Clemson happened to lose that game, but the culture at Clemson was simply more “into basketball” in those years. Of course, those teams found more success, and everyone wants to watch a winning team.
Littlejohn is considered one of the toughest places to play. In fact, during a recent ACC broadcast, a former player said it was tougher than Cameron Indoor because it crowds were downright mean. After attending a few games in Lawrence Joel Coliseum, in Winston-Salem (a beautiful facility), I can say that the atmosphere in Littlejohn is special, and is largely fostered by the “right on top of you” construction of the arena itself.
I have memories of Littlejohn comparable to those formed in Death Valley and I’d be sad to see it go. If luxury boxes are a major revenue generator that we could take advantage of, I’d rather see renovation than a full rebuild. I’d hate to see Littlejohn go if it’s nt necessary, but I admit a new arena would be exciting. Either way, I trust Dan Radakovich to make the best decision for Clemson.
I’m interested in hearing the pulse of Tiger Nation. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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