Clemson moving forward with rebuilding plans for Littlejohn Coliseum
CLEMSON – Dan Radakovich’s week has been so fast and furious, he’s struggling to remember what day it is.
He met with professional developers and other athletic directors at the University of Minnesota on Monday. He was officially declared the ACC’s representative on the future College Football Playoff selection committee Wednesday. And he successfully teamed with the Clemson board of trustees to offer pre-approval for major athletic facility upgrades in the board’s quarterly meeting Friday.
Oh, and No. 3 Clemson hosts No. 5 Florida State in football Saturday.
“It’s been a great week, it really has,” Radakovich said, catching his breath for a few moments on a couch at the Madren Center shortly after Clemson’s board meeting adjourned Friday.
In a one-on-one interview with The Post and Courier, Radakovich sounded content, satisfied, even victorious as his vision to expand and improve Clemson’s athletic facilities in his first year as the school’s athletic director came closer to fruition.
Instead of groundbreaking separate land for a brand new building — which was discussed — the university is on board with stripping apart Littlejohn Coliseum, rebuilding and renovating the basketball arena at an estimated cost between $60 million and $80 million.
Friday’s effort greenlights the athletic department and its booster club, IPTAY, to commence research and fundraising for the long-term projects.
“The confidence that the board has shown in the direction we’re going is really gratifying,” Radakovich said. “When we look at Littlejohn, we were very upfront: new or rebuild, there were positives and negatives to both.
“At the end of the day, rebuilding Littlejohn, the end product could be incredible, and exactly what you need.”
The Tigers will use their 45-year-old arena for the next two seasons, before reconstruction takes over the 2015-16 athletic season. Clemson’s basketball teams are expected to use Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena (formerly the Bi-Lo Center) for all home games that year, before moving back to Littlejohn for the fall of 2016.
Noted for his supervision of brand new facilities at his former employer at Georgia Tech, Radakovich said he’ll look to craft a consolidated home schedule during the year in Greenville.
The idea is to schedule home-and-home series from 2016-18 and visit the opponent’s building the first year, while welcoming those foes back in the renovated Littlejohn Coliseum’s inaugural season.
Clemson will work with the ACC and Bon Secours Wellness Arena to hash out scheduling conflicts, and Radakovich promised to provide charter buses for students looking to attend home games 45 minutes away from Clemson’s campus.
Littlejohn Coliseum underwent a $32 million renovation in 2002, which included a new practice gym, athletic training room, weight room, locker rooms and players’ lounge. This new proposal calls to replace most of those functions, plus coaches’ offices, video review rooms and “a significant upgrade to the quality and character of the public exterior face of the building.”
According to the Finance and Facilities Committee blueprint, Littlejohn Coliseum will be remade of contemporary parts, and “in the end, the building will be transformed in almost every way.”
Also approved on Friday’s agenda were a football operations building spanning 60,000 to 80,000 square feet next to the practice fields, a 10,000-square foot letterwinners’ premium lounge on the third floor of Memorial Stadium’s WestZone Club, additional baseball player facilities conjoined to Doug Kingsmore Stadium, and significant upgrades to the Hoke Sloan Tennis Center and Duckworth Pavilion.
“Certainly, the success of our football program is essential for our entire athletic program to continue to move forward,” Radakovich said. “That’s why within all of these different programs, we’ve always talked about continuing to upgrade our football opportunities.
“We can’t sit still in football. We have to remain very competitive and do the things necessary to stay in the top echelon of both the ACC and nationally.”