Monday Update: Stadium expansion, Swinney's camps and Elite Retreat, and tailgating
|Monday, April 12, 2021, 2:58 PM- -|
As Clemson University and the rest of the nation make progress in coming out of the pandemic, the athletic department continues to adapt and improvise as conditions merit. That leads to some updates we would like to pass along to all of you.
We will start with baseball and softball capacity at Doug Kingsmore Stadium and McWhorter Stadium over the remainder of the season. Clemson has just 12 home baseball games remaining and softball has just 10. According to Clemson Associate AD for Communications Jeff Kallin, expect both sports to remain at current capacities over the final games. Kallin pointed out that while other states have dropped guidelines as far as attendance and events, South Carolina has not changed its rules and the school will continue to abide by the state’s mandates unless something changes.
That takes us to Death Valley – last week the school began the process of unbolting the socially distanced seatbacks (pods) from the stadium seats. The school anticipates a full Death Valley next fall and that includes tailgating. If the stadium is full then expect – of course – tailgating to be back to normal. That is something all of us can hope for and appreciate. I loved that we were able to see football this past season despite all that was going on, but everyone around campus is hopeful (and extremely optimistic) that fall will be business as usual when it comes to football.
For those who are IPTAY members, hopefully you saw that season ticket requests started on April 1 and the ticket request deadline is April 30th. The IPTAY deadline is June 1.
Back in October of 2019, the Board of Trustees voted on an estimated $68.7 million worth of stadium improvements for Death Valley, which were originally targeted to be completed by summer 2021.
On the agenda are a videoboard that's set to over quadruple in size on the East end zone, improvements to the sound system and lighting, additional premium and regular seating areas that would increase the capacity of Memorial Stadium to 83,350 and football locker room renovations.
From the proposal:
"As a part of this project, the University intends to make additional accessible seating available in the West and East end-zones where proper sightlines and on-grade access exist.
To accommodate patrons displaced by these ADA improvements and to meet the current demand for club and suite seating, additional premium seating is needed.
The west end zone area will be expanded with an additional 800-seat concourse-level club and a 240-seat field-level club with amenities similar to the West Zone and Younts South Club.
Fan amenities for the stadium will be upgraded, including installing a larger main videoboard in the east end, a new audio/speaker system, and lighting improvements.
Included in the east end design will also be strategically added seats, including accessible and wheelchair plus companion seating, and pedestrian pathways in and around the Hill and Howard's Rock area. The additional seats will offset potential future seat reductions throughout the stadium. Renovations to existing parking lots will include general site work, potential capacity expansion, reorientations and reconfigurations, and amenity layout improvements for better tailgating experiences for IPTAY donors.
Finally, the locker room will be expanded from 5,500 to 8,000 square feet, including a video review space within the locker room and the relocation of equipment operations and sports medicine functions to provide efficient adjacencies."
Those improvements were delayed due to COVID and the Board of Trustees is not expected to vote on it again until at least July at the earliest. That means that the improvements won’t take place until after the 2021 season, unless it’s a smaller project (such as lights).
Finally, at least for this edition, we will hit on camps this summer at Clemson, including Dabo Swinney’s football camps. To me, this is the best news of all. As of this writing all camps – even math and science camps – are scheduled to happen on campus this summer.
Swinney’s youth and high school camps were canceled last summer. The NCAA announced a dead period last March in which recruits weren’t allowed to take official visits or meet coaching staff in person. That led to some unusual recruiting scenarios in which someone like 2021 safety Andrew Mukuba, who lives in Texas and committed to the Tigers without taking an official visit to Clemson or meeting Swinney in person. Mukuba finally met Swinney once he was enrolled.
At the spring game two weeks ago, recruits could only wave at the coaches and weren’t allowed to visit the facilities. The recruiting dead period is through May 31st, and CBS reported Sunday that the dead period is likely to come to an end soon.
According to the article, The NCAA Council this week is expected to set an end date of June 1 for the long-standing recruiting dead period multiple sources told CBS Sports. The dead period was imposed in March 2020 after COVID-19 shut down college sports. It was extended eight times over the past year as the global pandemic raged, the last time in February.
With widespread distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, it has become easier to envision more in-person contact, including football camps and official visits, beginning in June. For more than a year, college football coaches have been able to do little more in recruiting than hold Zoom calls with prospects.
"Everything I'm hearing, we're headed toward June 1," a source close to the NCAA Council said.
The evaluation aspect of Swinney’s high school camp can’t be overstated – it’s a time when the coaches get not only an early look at 8th, 9th, and 10th graders and think about potential offers, but they also get an extended look at rising juniors they think fit the Clemson profile. That usually means getting to know the prospect in a 1-on-1 setting.
A few years ago, it was a quarterback named DJ Uiagalelei who showed up at Swinney’s camp looking for an offer from a school he had only seen on television. That offer came on the shore of Lake Keowee later that night, and Uiagalelei is likely the starter at quarterback over the next two seasons.
Those dates also include the Elite Retreat, a chance for the coaches to show off the facilities to prospects and commits. The Elite Retreat is scheduled for June 12-13. We’ve already reported that commits Cade Klubnik, Adam Randall, and Collin Sadler are expected to attend, while prospects Toriano Pride, Jaleel Skinner, and Jaedyn Lukas have all expressed an interest.
The Tigers have fallen short in a couple of recent recruiting battles, and getting players back on campus – and in front of the coaches – is huge. Swinney says if the coaches get a prospect on campus, then they know they have a shot.