The Clemson softball team continues to make progress as it works to have everything in place for its first game in program history in February. The Tigers reached a milestone Tuesday.
Clemson held a “topping out” ceremony for its new softball stadium as the final beam of the structure was put into place.
Clemson staff members, including Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich, signed the beam, as did construction workers who have been working to have the stadium complete by late October or early November.
“It’s definitely a milestone that we’re very excited about. You actually see the structure up, you see the beam going across the roof and everybody gets to sign it, so it’s a special day,” Clemson softball coach John Rittman said. “It really gets us anticipating the start of playing our first games here. It signifies that we’re getting closer, so with that comes excitement, anticipation, all the feelings that go into playing your first game in program history.”
Radakovich spoke to construction workers who gathered for the ceremony and told them that the first call he received after taking over as AD was from a fan asking when the Tigers were going to get a softball program.
About five years later, a longtime vision is becoming a reality. The Tigers’ program will be the 13th in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Words really can’t describe it. We’ve really been anticipating this moment for a long time. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can see the structure really coming into place, where the walls are, where each space is and how big each area is,” Rittman said. “When you step on the field you get a true feel of what the stadium’s going to look like to be in the arena and playing softball or coaching in it.”
The stadium is going to cost an estimated $14 million and will seat about 1,000 fans.
Clemson had seven players on campus this past year, and the entire roster will arrive in August. Individual practices will begin in August, with the team starting practice in September.
Rittman believes the stadium gives Clemson everything it needs to be successful.
“We were very fortunate that our administration let us be involved in just about every decision of this stadium. ... We know what we need to be successful and this stadium will have all of those components,” Rittman said. “It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience to be able to start a program and recruit to a program and watch a stadium go up and just very blessed to be a part of it.”