A new Littlejohn Coliseum could mean a season of Clemson Tigers’ basketball in Greenville, said athletic director Dan Radakovich.
The Clemson University Board of Trustees voted Friday to move forward with planning for possible upgrades for several athletic facilities, including a preliminary plan to spend up to $80 million to remake the basketball arena. The seating capacity would drop to about 8,500, but much of the interior would be reconfigured to add training and practice facilities for the men’s and women’s teams. The exterior would also get a face-lift, according to the athletic director.
Radakovich wants to completely remake the spectator experience at Littlejohn, from new sightlines to extensive wireless offerings and more.
“Our goal is for it to feel like two different buildings,” Radakovich said.
That proposal, along with preliminary upgrades to the campus tennis and football facilities and a new, 10,000-square-foot Letterwinners Lounge, got initial approval Friday from trustees.
A stripped-down plan to fix up the west end zone area of Memorial Stadium — without a previously planned museum — got final approval to the tune of $8.8 million. Also approved were a $10 million state bond issue to fix up Freeman Hall and a $23.7 million bond for work on the Clemson Architectural Center in Charleston.
Radakovich said his department will need to raise much, if not all, of the money for the facilities’ work he proposed Friday, which could exceed $100 million altogether. The board’s vote clears the way for him and his staff to start raising that money, firm up specifications and put together a final proposals and price tags for board consideration.
The athletic director said he expects the men’s and women’s teams would need to find new homes for roughly a year during construction, with the Bon Secours Arena in Greenville as a likely site for the men. Phillip Sikes, spokesman for the basketball program, said Friday that head men’s’ basketball coach Brad Brownell would reserve comment until the Littlejohn project gets final approval.
The board of trustees also learned that the university’s administrative council has approved the goal of making the campus smoke-free. A survey of staff, students and faculty is being prepared for campuswide input, according to Faculty Senate President Kelly Smith, but no final decision has been made.
Trustee Joe Swann expressed reservation about the idea of preventing people from smoking even if they aren’t bothering others.
“I think the board will want to have a lot more conversation on it,” Swann said.
A report on the possible ban is expected at the trustees’ next quarterly meeting in February 2014.
In other business:
The university’s $1 billion Will to Lead fundraising campaign has netted $712 million in contributions and planned giving, as of the first quarter of this fiscal year. Alumni association staffers acknowledged that giving slowed down earlier this year after President James Barker said he would step down and return to teaching, but giving resumed pace in this last quarter;
The board formally approved a resolution honoring retired provost Doris Helms, who stepped down in July; and
John N. (Nicky) McCarter Jr. was elected board vice chairman. Chairman David Wilkins joked that he would have invited McCarter to comment on his election, but “we’ve got an 8:22 kickoff tomorrow night.”