Clemson athletics director outlines plan for facilities upgrade

10/30/2013 12:11 AM

10/30/2013 12:12 AM

Less than a year on the job, athletics director Dan Radakovich has begun to virtually remake the face of Clemson athletics with football, basketball, baseball and tennis scheduled for facility facelifts.

Some of the works could become evident early as the spring of 2015.

Radakovich said he was in the final stage of pulling together concepts for changes to Memorial Stadium, a new football operations center and renovations to Littlejohn Coliseum worthy of HGTV.

Though he was not prepared Tuesday to put a price tag on the nine projects, Radakovich said the Clemson Athletic Facilities Trust would provide the seeds for funding.

An advocate of additional service debt in the current financial climate, Radakovich felt a sense of urgency to push for the projects before favorable interest rates disappeared. Clemson’s athletics debt has been limited to $200 million by the state legislature. Radakovich said current debt was at about $25 million, “so we’re way under that statutory limit.”

The biggest project should be the “renovation” of Littlejohn Coliseum. Though the arena has undergone several upgrades over 40 years, Radakovich believes the basketball programs could reach their potential with a new facility. Shortly before coming to Clemson, he oversaw a makeover of the Georgia Tech arena.

“One of the things that we talked about was, if you stood at mid-court inside Littlejohn Coliseum today and looked around, if you stood at mid-court of the rebuilt facility, it will feel like you are in two different buildings,” Radakovich said. “That’s really our goal.”

The teams would be displaced one season, ideally during 2015-16, he said. Radakovich said he would explore playing men’s games in Greenville. During previous work at Littlejohn the teams played in Anderson.

Several separate projects are slated for football and its stadium, including a new operations center of between 60,000 and 80,000 square feet adjacent to the indoor facility.

Radakovich said there was no urgency since the WestZone fills that role as home to weight training, locker rooms, offices and meeting rooms.

The third phase of the WestZone would be completed including the Oculus near the main entrance which would serve as the “signature vertical element” of the stadium. A pedestrian area linking the north and south stands would alleviate congestion.

Suites and concourses would undergo extensive renovation, and a 10,000-square foot Letterwinner Lounge would be constructed on the second concourse of the south stands. In partnership with the Madren Center, it would be used throughout the year for special events.

A three-level addition at baseball’s Doug Kingsmore Stadium would include player amenities adjacent to the current locker room area directly behind the first base stands. Integrated into the existing stands, the addition will include a viewing platform.

The Hoke Sloan Tennis Center and Duckworth Pavilion would be upgraded with expansion and reorientation of the indoor tennis facility and renovations to the tennis complex.

And athletics has joined plans for a mixed-use facility of approximately 260,000 square feet to include academic support facilities to replace Vickery Hall including student housing and dining, a convenience store, retail restaurant and administrative support spaces.

Radakovich said a Clemson athletic museum might work in the McFadden building, home of the athletic administration offices which would move to the WestZone once the football operations building was completed.

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