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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Historic Riggs Field, the home of Clemson University soccer, celebrated its centennial year in 2015. This makes it the sixth oldest college athletic facility still in use in the country. Built at a cost of $10,000, it was originally used for all the Tiger teams, including football, baseball, soccer, track and even basketball (when the weather allowed). The facility is named for Walter Riggs, Clemson’s first football coach, who later became athletic director and eventually the president of the university.
The Tigers soccer program has an equally distinguished history over the years. The first soccer game played at Riggs was in 1934 as an exhibition event, with soccer being added to full time status in 1967. Soccer became the sole tenant after a major renovation in 1987. Since becoming a soccer only facility, Riggs has hosted an NCAA National Championship Game, four Men’s Soccer Final Fours, three Men’s ACC Championships, and 15 NCAA Soccer Tournament games.
The Historic Riggs Field of today features seating for 6,500 fans. Recent renovations have included the installation of a 41’ X 30’ video scoreboard, an enlarged press box with camera deck, a picnic area, and an improved drainage system for the natural turf field.
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Concessions for Clemson soccer games are actually housed in the indoor tennis center adjacent to the south end of the field. This can provide a reprieve from the South Carolina heat and humidity in the early part of the season and you can take care of all your business at the same time as the restrooms for the soccer facility are also located in the same building. The food offerings are limited and high in price. Menu selections include a medium soda ($6), giant pretzel ($4), peanuts ($5), cotton candy ($3) and candy bars ($3). I suggest you eat before the game at the Esso Club (three blocks away) or at one of the many restaurants in downtown Clemson (one block away). The Clemson team store is located underneath the stands of Riggs Field and offers a wide variety of merchandise at reasonable prices.
Even though it sounds like heresy in the basketball crazy Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson soccer can claim an equally strong position in fan support and results. The Tigers have won two National Championships, have been ACC champs 13 times, played in the soccer Final Four seven times and finished in the top 10 teams in NCAA soccer five times since 2000. There have been 59 Clemson soccer players that have gone on to play professional soccer in the US and abroad. Clemson's all-time record in games played at Riggs is a stunning 363-93-34 entering the 2015 season.
Needless to say, Historic Riggs Field is an intimidating place to play for visiting teams, much as Cameron Indoor Stadium is for Duke basketball. The stands are very close to the field and nearly every game is a sellout. The video board, the constant playing of "Hold that Tiger," and a sea of orange and purple-clad fans all add up to an electric atmosphere whether the opponent is archrival South Carolina or a small school from Division II.
Clemson is truly a college town, with a majority of the town being the campus itself. It has beautiful tree lined streets, especially when the leaves start changing. The town offers a string of dining choices along College Avenue. Among the local favorites are the Tiger Town Tavern, TD's, and Brioso. To sample a truly legendary sports bar, you need to head over to the Esso Club on Old Greenville Highway.
Since a majority of Clemson's soccer games are held at night, out of towners may want to consider an overnight stay following the game. You will want to head over to Tiger Boulevard for lodging accommodations. Hotel row includes local franchises of Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn and the Hotel Tillman.
To put it mildly, Clemson fans are as loud as their team's orange and purple color scheme. They start cheering and singing long before the game starts and never stop until the final whistle. Nearby Memorial Stadium may have the magical Frank Howard rock, but at Historic Riggs Field it is the stadium that rocks.
Clemson students and alumni can be compared to a European or Seattle Sounders fan base in their fervor and attire, including a team crest and embroidered scarves that serve as banners. I mean this in a complementary way, as no bad behavior is tolerated by Clemson athletic personnel or police. Clemson fans are not fair weather fans, as they stay to the end, whether they are four goals ahead or have been shut out (which very rarely happens at Riggs).
The town of Clemson is located two and a half hours from Charlotte, one hour south of Greenville and two and a half hours north of Atlanta via I-85. Historic Riggs Field is approximately 16 miles off the interstate from either the north or the south. Free parking for the stadium is located on both sides of Heisman Street or in the large lot adjacent to Fike Recreation Center.
Tickets to Clemson soccer games run from $8 for a reserved seat to $4 for general admission seating. A Reserved Seat Season Ticket for the 10 home games is a great deal as it is only $50 and provides you with a spot at midfield complete with bleacher back seating. Parking is free at the nearby Fike Recreation Center. The concessions are overpriced, so a family of four should eat off site before the game. You are guaranteed to enjoy a very high quality soccer match.
Historic Riggs Field earns its first extra star for surviving and thriving for 100 years. In this age of disposable stadiums, that is amazing. A second star goes to the high level of soccer you experience at Riggs (a home winning percentage of .740 is astounding) The last star goes to the wonderful event staff who handles the capacity crowds with great professionalism. This includes the parking/traffic control personnel, the concessions workers and the ushers, who politely but firmly keep everything under control.
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368 College Ave
Clemson, SC 29631
339 College Ave
Clemson, SC 29631
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