AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Clemson is growing, and it is growing fast.
As Clemson University attempts to grow its student body from its modest days of 15,000 students 10 years ago to the goal of more than 30,000 in the coming decade, construction of new buildings and dorms will continue to pop up on both the academic and athletic campuses.
So what does Clemson’s growth mean to the athletic department? In particular when it pertains to IPTAY and tailgating?
“A lot of our IPTAY donors are alums,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said to The Clemson Insider from the ACC Spring Meetings at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla. “As you kind of get those numbers up, you have a better opportunity to kind of keep people engaged. That is part of the focus of IPTAY and the athletic department is when students graduate, how do we keep them engaged?
“We know they had a great experience while they were here so we want to make sure as they grow through life that they remember IPTAY, they remember the program as they look to give back to Clemson.”
Radakovich said about 65 percent of the athletic department’s entire budget, which is roughly $114 million, comes from fan base interaction.
“I look at it through the sale of tickets, donations to IPTAY, sale of merchandise and sale of concessions, so those are all things that come out of our fan bases’ pocket to us. That is about 65-percent of the dollars that we utilize,” he said.
The Clemson athletic director admits Clemson’s growth could hurt the atmosphere that makes Clemson so special on football Saturdays. Right now, Clemson has at least $130,000 people on campus for big games with 85,000 of those in the stadium.
“As we continue to grow on campus, we have to come up with smarter ways to be able to get people to have a good experience for football games,” Radakovich said. “A few years ago we started some of our remote parking out near the Seneca River area and people have enjoyed that who have used it.
“We kind of got the bus lane and they get dropped off over at baseball so it is pretty easy, especially if you live going towards the Atlanta area, Seneca and out that way, you can get out of the game quickly and that has kind of helped ease some of the other traffic.”
With the new softball complex going up in 2019, Clemson will have to eliminated some of the parking behind Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“So we continue to work with our traffic people, our game operations people to make sure that the game experience is good,” Radakovich said. “Even if we have more alumni. Even if we have more students. We want to make sure the people that are coming to our games continue to have a positive experience.”