June 2, 1999
It will be more than a year before the earth begins to move, but the undercurrent which will carry Clemson to a new generation of athletic facilities is strong and on-going.
In the month since Clemson unveiled its Tiger Pride campaign, little has taken place of a visible nature. But behind the scenes athletic director Bobby Robinson and IPTAY executive director George Bennett continue to develop the foundation for Clemson’s first capital campaign for athletic facilities.
“Right now we’re in the process of getting our game plan together,” said Robinson. “George has made some contacts, and will be out on the IPTAY circuit explaining it – specifically the brick program.
“It’s really too early to say we’ve done much. We’ve said a lot about what we’re going to do, but you have to do it in stages.”
The fund-raising component of the Tiger Pride endeavor will get into full-swing as Clemson holds its annual spring circuit of IPTAY meetings. Bennett said that a flier is being prepared which will fully explain the ‘brick program’ – an opportunity which Clemson hopes will attract a broad base of support and participation.
“We’ve already taken it to our district representatives, and people seem to be enthusiastic about buying into it, calling and asking questions,” Bennett said. “We haven’t sent out a solicitation yet, but we’ll have that ready in two or three weeks.
“We presented the ideas to our board on Tuesday.”
Robinson said the next step in the facilities part of the project will be to select an architect to design the renovations and additions to Memorial Stadium.
“Right now we have a broad idea of what we want to do,” Robinson said. “Part of what we’ll be doing in interviewing architects will be to look at specific ideas about how to do it.
“We’ll interview architects for the football stadium this week. We’ll select one, and then that project will be off and running.”
Robinson said that construction on the Memorial Stadium project will likely begin after the 2000 football season.
“We’ll probably issue a bond this summer to start the process rolling,” Robinson said. “Even if everything works perfectly, the way the state system works with such a massive project we’ll be lucky to be able to start after the 2000 football season. We think we can, but that would be the earliest that we could actually start construction.”
Robinson said the campaign has a construction target date of the summer of 2000 for the new indoor track, which will also serve as a practice facility for football, baseball and soccer.
“We’re moving forward with the plan for the bubble (indoor track facility) right now,” said Robinson. “The architect is on board, and that will really be the first project to go. The golf range will be done before then, but the track facility will be the first new project off the drawing board.
“We’re aiming for construction to begin in the summer of 2000. The indoor track bubble could probably go a little sooner than that, but we’re still going to hold to that timetable. The reason that one will be first is because the indoor track will be removed as part of the Littlejohn Coliseum renovation, and the track teams have to have a place to go.
“And realistically, that facility will be the easiest to construct, and will interfere with less than anything, because it’s an isolated facility.”
Robinson said the baseball stadium renovation will follow the other projects, while the training room renovation will likely not begin until the new Littlejohn Coliseum annex training room is operational.
The Littlejohn Coliseum renovation, and the subsequent annex construction, at this point has the most uncertain starting date, due to its dependency on a request for $9 million in state funds.
“When we start with Littlejohn depends on what the state allocates or doesn’t allocate,” Robinson said. “We hope it will be something we can start after next basketball season, but that will be determined by when the money is allocated or not allocated. So that one is kind of in limbo.
“The plans for the coliseum, conceptually and every other way, are really done.”
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