This past spring, when the Clemson women’s basketball team traveled to Starkville, Mississippi for the NCAA Tournament, Dan Radakovich and a couple of other administrators, who were on hand to support the Lady Tigers, made it a point to go see Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs debuted their $60 million stadium this past spring, perhaps the nicest ballpark and player’s facility in the country.
“I think the owners of the Greenville Drive would like to pick that up and put it in the middle of Greenville,” Radakovich said to The Clemson Insider. “It is phenomenal, but it was $60 million. They drive the revenue to help support that.”
Of course, later in the spring, Clemson’s baseball program landed at Swayze Field in Oxford, Mississippi for the NCAA’s Oxford Regional. It was just two years removed from a $19 million upgrade where it enhanced the players’ facility and the game-day experience for fans. Part of those enhancements included a state-of-the-art club area and suites that stretch from the first-base dugout to the third-base dugout, as well as new stands that stretch down the first-base line.
The club areas were packed the entire regional, and the stadium hosted about an average of 10,000 fans in each of the games their Rebels played in. Their school record for one game is more than 12,000.
At Mississippi State, the Bulldogs can sit 13,000 comfortably and during the NCAA Tournament is set a new tournament record with 15,586 for a game in the Starkville Regional this past spring.
As nice as Doug Kingsmore Stadium is, especially with its new players’ facility which opened in 2015, the stadium itself has not had a major upgrade since the addition of the Chapman Grandstands in 2010. Doug Kingsmore is capable of sitting 6,272 fans and the record for one game is 6,524, set in 2016 against South Carolina.
“Anything you do has to be supported with a positive return on investment. We have to continue to move forward,” Radakovich said.
Clemson will not move forward with baseball anytime in the near future. The softball stadium, which is expected to be up and ready by next month, is the current project the athletic department is working on, along with the new IPTAY Center, while the men’s and women’s soccer teams are about to get a new players’ and operational facility.
“When I got here in 2013 and I took a little time to see the overall facility need, and certainly baseball was there, along with football, tennis and some of the other facilities we have been able to put here…IPTAY, soccer and certainly softball. So, we have kind of hit everybody in this last five-year kind of go around,” Radakovich said. “Now we need to go back and see where some of the areas that can really help us drive revenue.
“Is that possible to do at Doug Kingsmore Stadium? We need to study it a little bit.”
A lot of things Clemson had done since Radakovich got to Tigertown in 2013 were programmatically related to allow their coaches and their student athletes to really kind of prepare and have a great practice area. It was the circumstances for the new men’s and women’s tennis that opened last year.
“It is what we are really doing at soccer with their operations area. We are really kind of focusing on that practice-play deal,” Radakovich said. “Certainly, the Reeves Facility and baseball are similar and when you look at Littlejohn, yeah, we re-did the inside of Littlejohn, but maybe more important than redoing the inside of Littlejohn was the practice facility, the Swann Pavilion. So, we have kind of hit all of those things, so now lets got back and see in the next generation of things, because we have taken care of the ability to attract great coaches and to attract great student athletes, how are we going to continue to keep the revenue moving.”
Radakovich says Clemson’s primary focus from a facilities perspective is on Memorial Stadium. The athletic department will continue to have a feasibility study here and there as it relates to some of the other facilities.
“I think basketball is in a pretty good spot because we duck tailed both of those together, practice and the competition,” he said. “But baseball and football probably have … football will be first because of the sheer revenue it can drive, but we are not going to forget about what might be the next step, as it associates with baseball.”