Clemson Associate AD Says West End Zone Project Necessary to Compete


by - Correspondent -
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Special to TigerNet from the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger


CLEMSON -- During the 1980's, Clemson Memorial Stadium or "Death Valley" was considered state-of-the-art, especially among its counterparts in the Atlantic Coast Conference. After all, none of the other ACC members could boast of an 80,000 seat stadium with two upper decks.

However, times have changed and other ACC schools have surpassed Clemson as far as its football facilities which include stadiums. As a result, Clemson Associate Athletic Director Bill D'Andrea told Clemson Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday morning that the West End Zone project is vital to moving the football program back to the level it once enjoyed.



"We are compelled to build this West End Zone project and give our student athletes the facilities they need and keep coaches and move forward with our athletic program," he said. "It's very important we maintain the rich tradition we have." When it comes to Death Valley over the past 20 plus years, D'Andrea admits, "We've done very little to enhance it." D'Andrea speaks from personal experience when it comes to Death Valley.

After all, he first came to Clemson University 19 years ago as an assistant football coach under then head coach Danny Ford.

"There have been little changes," he said. "When you see what they have at Florida, Georgia, Auburn and such, it's not the same." The West End Zone project, according to D'Andrea, "is probably one of the most significant projects Clemson University and the athletic department will ever facilitate." D'Andrea said Clemson football has long enjoyed a rich football tradition that includes being the all-time conference leader in ACC championships with

13 and have participated in 27 bowl games - 14 of which the Tigers emerged victorious.

However, the associate athletic director quickly adds that the bar has been raised in the ACC. The conference is the only one in the country over the past three years to have a winning bowl record, is the all-time winningest conference in bowl games, and have produced two of the past five national football champions.

"Clemson must be able to excel to compete in the new, expanded ACC," he said.

Since 1999, D'Andrea said ACC schools have spent more than $400 million on facilities alone. Although the West End Zone project will cost around $56 million to complete, the Tigers have spent the least amount on football facilities in the conference over the past five years.

"When I was recruiting in the 1980's, the players we recruited wanted to play in front of 80,000 people and no one had such a stadium but us," he said. "But we kind of put our thumbs on our suspenders and didn't move forward." A chart D'Andrea produced illustrated the point. While Ohio State, at $194 million, has spent the most on its football facilities in the nation, the University of Virginia, at $46 million; Florida State University, at $30 million; Duke University, $22 million; Virginia Tech, $21 million; the University of North Carolina, $20 million; and even Wake Forest, $13 million have all spent more than Clemson's $12 million.

It was during a visit to such facilities that D'Andrea and other Clemson University officials saw what was needed for Clemson to compete. As a result, he feels the West End Zone project will meet facility needs, both aesthetically and operation-wise, which the football and other athletic programs have needed for so long.

For example, the West End Zone has already sold out all of its seats but there will also be club seating for a prime end zone view and naming rights to generate additional revenue. From a football standpoint, such amenities will include a game day locker rooms, team room, coaches offices, media area, recruiting room, partial development of the current West End Zone stands and the addition of corner End Zone seating.

The West End Zone, D'Andrea said, will also feature a 14,000 square foot museum celebrating the university's athletic and military history.

Although the project is several years away from total completion, D'Andrea said the construction is set to go out for bid Dec. 8 and that some dismantlement has already begun. One of the most noticeable is that one end of the scoreboard and the Frank Howard Field sign has already been removed.

In addition, dirt on the two bank areas next to the West End Zone is being removed as part of the process necessary for laying the foundation.

D'Andrea said the West End Zone project is not just about football. Instead, he said the entire athletic department will benefit.

"It's about being a total sports program," he said. "When we bring the football operations in the West End Zone, that will free up space for other Olympic sports to display memorabilia and such (in the McFadden building, for example).

In addition to Clemson University President Jim Barker, D'Andrea credits Athletics Director Terry Don Phillips for being the primary driving force behind facilities improvements ‹ not only for Death Valley but those which have already taken place at Littlejohn Coliseum and Doug Kingsmore Stadium.

Most importantly, D'Andrea said Phillips has brought to Clemson, through the facility improvements and RU Orange and Solid Orange campaigns, "an opportunity for us to recognize our history and tradition." "He has made us aware of what a special place Clemson is," he said.


For more info on the West End Project visit http://www.westzoneclub.com/

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