AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Though Clemson has been comfortably moved into the $55 million Allen Reeves Football Complex since late January, head coach Dabo Swinney is not done when it comes to facility improvements for the football program.
Swinney, along with Thad Turnipseed, Clemson Football’s Director of Recruiting and External Affairs, has indicated in recent months and weeks they will turn their attention to Clemson Memorial Stadium when the next round of upgrades come around.
“You can’t ever arrive if you’re going to be the best,” Swinney said. “If you’re going to be great, you have to always strive for what’s next. You have to always ask yourself, how do we get better?”
Some of the ideas Swinney and Turnipseed have thrown around are possible revenue seating areas in Death Valley. At a Prowl & Growl meeting earlier this month in Greenville, Swinney proposed the idea of an EastZone area, like the club seats they have for the WestZone currently.
“There have been a lot of things to enhance the fan experience … the box opportunities, the WestZone has been phenomenal,” Swinney said. “Some type of EastZone at some point is probably going to come. When? Down the road, but I don’t know. But you have to always be thinking towards those things. There is certainly opportunity to grow in our stadium.”
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich says he will always listen to ideas when it comes to how Clemson can create more revenue opportunities.
“As it relates to the stadium, we always have ideas of how to create more revenue opportunities within the stadium, just as we did with the South Club a couple of years ago,” Radakovich said from the ACC Spring Meetings at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla. “Where we go next with that, it is not something that is on tomorrow’s agenda, but I think we just need to continue what revenue opportunities can come forward from the stadium in the coming years. We don’t have any definitive plans right now.”
Since adding the South Club in 2015, Radakovich says the return on investment from what the athletic department spent in the South Club was substantial based on the cost versus what revenues are coming in.
“I think that is important when you look at stadiums,” Radakovich said. “Just to build large upper decks is probably not going to get you the type of return on the investment that you would if you put some type of premium offering in another location in the stadium.”
Besides the east end zone area, Clemson could look at adding a fifth floor to the WestZone as well.
“When I got here someone had mentioned to me that on the west end of the stadium it was built strong enough to take the roof off and put another spot there. Maybe you go and look at that and see how that would work. Or is there another spot in the stadium,” Radakovich said as a suggestion.
But the improvements don’t just stop with the football stadium. There have been suggestions that the athletic department could help with new dormitories that its student athletes will share with the rest of the student body. It is a structure that could be built around the lake.
“Coaches are always looking into the future,” Radakovich said. “Our campus in general is spending a lot of money on dormitories. We don’t do that athletically. That is not something we will do. It has to be joined with the campus. I think it really has to be conversations with the department of housing and where they are moving ahead with it.”
Before any of this begins, Clemson has a few other projects it has to get done first.
“We are concentrating on our facility efforts as it relates to the IPTAY Building, moving through the state process of the new tennis facility. We also have with the announcement of the softball program,” Radakovich said. “We are also going to have to look forward to it as it relates to building a softball stadium. That area near the two soccer practice fields is an area for our two soccer teams’ locker rooms and possibly offices there, so those are facility things that are most prominently on our future agenda.”