By Will Vandervort.
A new football operations facility could be in place in next three to four years
By Will Vandervort
There were only a few things for Dan Radakovich to do on Friday. Clemson’s Athletic Director first met with the board of trustees for much of the day. Then he had an IPTAY event before attending Clemson’s Annual Rock the John Party at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Oh by the way, there is this little football game between No. 3 Clemson and No. 5 Florida State going on Saturday night in Death Valley.
“There are a lot of great things to look forward to this weekend. We have a lot of exciting things happening here at Clemson,” Radakovich told The Clemson Insider Friday afternoon.
The most exciting news to come out of Clemson on Friday was the news that the board approved a plan that will have Littlejohn Coliseum rebuilt. The new construction on the coliseum could begin sometime prior to the 2015-’16 season with plans to open the doors to the new facility by 2016-’17.
“Having the plan out there for not only our board and for the people on campus, but also for all the fans of Clemson to have them understand where we are going and not have them guessing one way or another. I think that is a real positive,” Radakovich said.
There were talks until Friday that Clemson might build a brand new arena altogether with it going up across from the ESSO Club and connecting into the original structure of Littlejohn.
“We can now concentrate on getting the program of these facilities absolutely correct and begin to focus on the other steps in the approval process as well as begin in a really high gear to fund raise for these particular projects,” Radakovich said.
Those other projects the board approved on Friday are: a new academic center as part of the core campus project; the construction of a letter winner’s area and meeting space at Memorial Stadium; complete suite renovation at Memorial Stadium; a new football operations facility; and significant upgrades to the tennis complex.
A new football operations facility could be in place in the next three to four years according to Radakovich. The athletic department says they will start looking into that project as soon as they get the baseball project done and get the basketball project started.
“It could be three to four years down the road,” Radakovich said. “Football is in a good situation right now with the WestZone Complex, but we always want to be thinking about what’s next. And what’s next is that consolidated facility around the brand new indoor football facility.
“Football is extremely, extremely important for us as an athletic program and as a university. So we want to make sure we are looking at things to make sure we keep it strong.”
And being strong in all sports is why the rebuilding project for Littlejohn Coliseum was so important to get approved. Through a programing phase, they will also look at upgrading the practice facility, including coaches facilities such as offices for both the men’s and the women’s basketball programs.
“As we get through the initial programing phase for the rebuilding, all of those will be flushed out,” Radakovich said.
Radakovich says it is very important from a communication standpoint to have coaches and their players in the same building so that way they can all work together and build on those relationships.
“Sometimes the informal communication is just as powerful as the formal communication,” he said. “We have seen that from some of our other sports, certainly over in football. Being over in the WestZone facility has been a real positive for them.
“As we build facilities and with the technology we have to communicate with one another it is probably not as important today as maybe as it was many years ago for everyone (in athletics) to be under one roof, but more so it is important for the coaches to communicate and be around their players. I think as we look into the rebuilding of the basketball arena, the baseball facility and the tennis facility, the addition of coaches’ facilities there will be very important.”
When the school begins to rebuild Littlejohn Coliseum, the basketball programs are expected to move to Greenville for one season until the new facility is complete. The plans call for Littlejohn to be gutted with only the side structures and the roof – which were rebuilt in 2002 – to remain.
“Greenville is a great market for us,” Radakovich said. “We want to make sure we get into Greenville where thousands and thousands of Clemson alumni are there. We have to make sure we can penetrate that market and bring Clemson and ACC basketball to them and make sure we can have a great show there so when Littlejohn is finished, there will be a number of people there that will want to follow us back to Clemson for the basketball schedule.
“The basketball schedule is not always played on weekends so having the ability to go the thirty or forty miles depending on where you live is real important for us as it relates to adding a strong and vibrant home-court advantage.”