Swinney says facilities plan shows 'forward thinking in trying to be the best of the best'

Coach expects approved facility enhancements to 'make everybody better'

West End Zone rendering one

Clemson University

West End Zone rendering one

Does Clemson football need a new $30 million operations center?

Dabo Swinney would be hard-pressed to argue need, given the Tigers' relatively posh and highly-functional accommodations in the WestZone.

But convenience and practicality are different matters.

For that reason, the proposed operations facility - to be built adjacent to and integrated with the indoor practice building - was on the table and received pre-concept approval at last week's quarterly meeting of Clemson's board of trustees.

This week Swinney offered some details both of the idea and the perceived benefits of centralizing all non-game day football functions under one roof.

"It really just started with a conversation between Dan (Radakovich) and I, and to see it kind of come to the forefront is very exciting for me," Swinney said. "We have a great facility here. I'm happy with what we've got, and I could stay here forever and it would be fine. But you're always looking at what's going on out there.

"We've talked about 'best' being the standard and always wanting to get better."

The addition of a specific-purpose building adjacent to the practice fields and indoor facility would eliminate the need to shuttle players back and forth from practice to the stadium, where locker rooms, meeting rooms and coaches' offices are currently located.

"We tram our guys year-round across the street, and there's always a little bit of a disconnect when they're over there and we're over here," Swinney said. "We'd continue to have a great facility to recruit to, and it would allow us to have an operations center where it all happens right there - practice, the indoor facility, and everything, the whole operation right there.

"You'd be there all the time, interacting with them. You maximize your time, instead of letting them out and taking 20 minutes or so to transition from meetings to the practice field. You just walk downstairs and you're there on the practice field."

Swinney said the Tigers' game day experience would then become something even more special.

"On game day, when you walk in that locker room (at the stadium), it's special. It's seven days a year," he said. "In the big picture, I think this would be huge for us. Now that we have approval for that, we can move forward with some concepts at the appropriate time."

The football operations center was one of several projects given pre-concept approval by the board last week.

Also approved was the complete rebuilding of Littlejohn Coliseum, inside and outside, retaining only the exterior walls and roof; an expanded tennis center, which would include six indoor courts, allowing for full-team play; construction of a new 10,000 square foot, multi-use letterwinners' area at Memorial Stadium; a new academic center to be built as part of the university's 'core campus' project; and renovation and refurbishing of box suites on the north and south sides of the football stadium.

Given final board approval were the expansion and enhancement of Doug Kingsmore Stadium and the completion of the WestZone, to include the addition of the oculus envisioned in the original plans as well as a pedestrian bridge designed to help alleviate a bottleneck for fans entering and leaving the stadium.

Radakovich said last week that the athletic department will raise much, if not all, of the money for the projects being proposed. The board’s pre-concept approval vote clears the way for the athletic administration to start raising money, firm up specifications and put together final proposals and price tags for board consideration.

Swinney said that the enhancements will "make everybody better."

"I think there is great potential here (in the WestZone) for the other sports, for the administration, for IPTAY and development, and so forth," Swinney said. "There are a lot of things we could do to make this the front door to Clemson athletics, as a whole."

He said he's excited about the proposed upgrade for basketball.

"I'm really excited about our basketball opportunity as well," Swinney said. "We've got to improve there. We've got a great coach, and we need to help him.

"And we've got great things going on with baseball and tennis, as well. It's a great time for Clemson athletics. We're in good financial shape, and this will give us an opportunity to be very competitive and win at a high level.

"It's forward thinking in trying to be the best of the best."

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