Clemson coach does not like neutral game being played in Columbia
When he was told Game 2 of the South Carolina series on Saturday was at Segra Park in Columbia, Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell was surprised. He knew the baseball Tigers were playing the Gamecocks on Saturday, but he had no idea they were playing what is called a “neutral game” in Columbia.
“The neutral game is in Columbia,” he asked surprisingly. “Wow!”
Of course, the Clemson baseball team will open the three-game series against rival South Carolina on Friday at Founders Park in Columbia, the Gamecocks home stadium, and then will drive the 3.4 miles from Founders Park to Segra Park for the series’ “neutral game” on Saturday. The series wraps up on Sunday in Clemson.
Segra Park is 1.9 miles from the University of South Carolina’s campus.
“I didn’t know that,” Brownell said. “Monte (Lee) needs … somebody needs to negotiate better. I don’t like that!”
Lee, of course, was not the person to negotiate the neutral site game with South Carolina … that would be athletic director Dan Radakovich. Clemson and South Carolina agreed to a four-year deal in August of 2018, which had the second game of the series being played at Greenville’s Fluor Field in 2019 and 2021 and at Segra Park, formerly known as Spirit Communications Park, in Columbia in 2020 and 2022.
“The arrangement with Greenville was coming to a close, so we solidified some bids from places around the state to host that game… As we evaluated our bids, it made a lot of sense,” Radakovich said at the time. “It was good economically and it made a lot of sense from a fan perspective.”
Radakovich said it made a lot of sense from the fans perspective because Clemson had the same amount of tickets to sell as South Carolina. Each school gets the same portion of the tickets to sell and the rest goes to Segra Park and its corporate sponsors.
“We have a lot of fans in the Columbia area, and we’re going to count on our fans to come to Spirit Communications Park and cheer on the Tigers.”
Following Clemson’s loss to East Tennessee State this past Tuesday, Lee was asked about the “neutral game” being held in Columbia. As expected, Lee was a little more politically correct with his comments than Brownell was.
“It is what it is,” Lee said. “The neutral site game is in Columbia at the pro park. We are the home team in that game. It is a neutral game. It is a neutral park. We are not playing at Founders Park. We are not playing at Doug Kingsmore.
“So, to me, we have played in that stadium before. So, we have been in that ballpark. It is a big ballpark. It’s the neutral site game and we are going to play the game where it is, and we are excited about playing it.”
Lee admitted he had some input in the negotiations when the idea of putting the neutral site game in Columbia came up.
“I certainly had some conversations about it and went back and forth,” he said. “Ultimately, and there were a lot of different scenarios that were brought to the table and, ultimately, this is the one we settled on.”
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