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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Unlike traditional ACC powers, the Clemson Tigers are mainly known for football. Their football stadium boasts a capacity of more than 80,000 and bears the nickname “Death Valley.” But if you don't follow ACC sports, you may not know the famous home of the Clemson basketball team, Littlejohn Coliseum. Though the team may not be known as a national powerhouse, they seem to find a way to make nationally-ranked teams fall when they come to Littlejohn. A huge construction project will begin in late 2015, with the goal of building an entirely new Littlejohn Coliseum. For now though, the current Coliseum is a decent arena that still holds a lot of history, but lacks the atmosphere of other ACC arenas.
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There isn't too much special about the food here. The standard stadium fare comes at a standard stadium price. One may assume that being in the south would mean more local variety, but that does not seem to be the case. The only local cuisine available is boiled peanuts, which are a South Carolina staple. Other than that, most of the food is no different than that of just about any stadium.
Let's just say this isn't the ACC basketball atmosphere you may be used to. While many teams in the conference find their identity in loud fans and crazy students, you won't really find that here. Instead, Littlejohn Coliseum presents you with more of a luxury experience. With seats built almost vertically, any seat has a great view. All the seats are covered with purple cloth and tiger paws stitched in. Though some fans will find this relaxing atmosphere a nice change of pace, others complain that college basketball is best enjoyed by fans on the edge of their seats.
The historical markings shine the brightest in Littlejohn. Don't forget, this place opened in 1968. Many of the Tigers' most memorable basketball moments happened in this very gym. Banners hang everywhere honoring great teams and players of the past. In each corner hangs a large poster for each retired jersey. Walking through hallways lined with memorials of Clemson greats can be enjoyable for even a non-Clemson fan. Over the years, the school made the Coliseum about remembering the school's best athletes, and they have done a great job.
Clemson University makes up most of the city of Clemson, South Carolina. You can find any number of local college diners and taverns within a short drive from the Coliseum. Friars Tavern and the Esso Club are even within walking distance of Littlejohn.
Winters in South Carolina can become very mild, and you may find that the temperature on game day is around 60 or even 70 degrees. If it happens to be a nice day outside, consider taking a walk by Lake Hartwell. Just across the street from Littlejohn, the Lake makes for a great outing before or after the game. You can't go wrong just exploring the Clemson campus, either. The famous football stadium lies next door, and you can even see Howard's Rock from the gates.
Again, this is not the kind of ACC fan base many come to expect. Sure, when Clemson makes a basket or a good play, several fans get on their feet and cheer. Other than that, though, the crowd stays pretty quiet. Granted, Stadium Journey may not have attended the most exciting game, but unfortunately the bar has been set pretty high in the ACC. Not many can compare to the Cameron Crazies or the Oakland Zoo, but plenty of other teams in the conference put together strong student sections. Most of the Clemson students stay focused on the game, but don't make much noise.
Of course, the pep band is always very charismatic. Each member holds a headshot of a celebrity or cartoon character and waves them in sync during free throws. The band itself is quite talented in their own right, and their enthusiasm makes them look good, too.
If equipped with GPS technology, you won't find it hard to find Clemson. There are a few state highways that run just east of the campus, but this isn't the kind of place you are just going to stumble upon.
Finding parking presents a challenge, as well, especially since permit zones are poorly marked. Expect to pay around $5-$10 to park at a reasonably close distance. There is some street parking around the building, but it tends to fill up quickly.
It's virtually impossible to find lower-level tickets (except through the second-hand market), but upper-level seats run for around $20. The upper-level seats offer a great view of the game and can practically be a steal. There aren't many places you can watch ACC basketball for $20.
Clemson employs two mascots: the Tiger and Tiger cub. The suits fit pretty true to form, making these two some of the more agile mascots I've seen.
It's hard to miss the large number of banners hanging from the ceiling at Littlejohn. The orange banners represent the men's team and purple represents the women's. Between the two are many championships and NCAA tournament appearances, dating back to the 1930s.
The team also enlists an emcee, of sorts. JDew runs almost all the promotions and works to get the crowd on their feet. It's nice to see someone get involved and run the promotions themselves, versus the PA announcer doing it all.
You can find the Clemson Hall of Fame on the main concourse. Many great athletes and coaches have passed through Clemson and the school does a good job of honoring them.
Littlejohn Coliseum, while functional, seems to have served its purpose. It's still a decent venue and comes loaded with history. Unfortunately, the Tigers need a more modern home if they look to challenge the ACC's best. Some old venues are timeless or hallowed grounds, but Littlejohn just feels outdated. Minor renovations have helped delay this major one, but its time has come. It will be exciting, though, to see what the new Littlejohn Coliseum will bring to the table. Hopefully, it will be classic enough to honor the Tigers' stellar basketball history, but also modern enough to boost recruiting today.
Member Review by brian on Dec 16, 2012
Ask the average sports fan about Clemson University, and the likely response will involve something about football. Death Valley is, after all, one of the more renowned college football experiences in the country. Just outside Memorial Stadium’s gates, though, another important piece of Clemson history finds its home.
Littlejohn Coliseum opened in 1968, and it has served to be quite the home floor for the Tigers. Stars such as Tree Rollins, Dale Davis and Horace Grant have taken the floor here, and 11 NCAA tournament teams, three Sweet Sixteen clubs and one Elite Eight participant have represented Clemson since Littlejohn opened its doors.
Sure, Death Valley gets all the love from sports fans for its history, but there is much to offer at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the top basketball conferences in the nation, and with Clemson’s surroundings outside and great basketball inside, this is quite the intriguing destination for college basketball lovers.
Member Review by alee1227 on Nov 08, 2014
Littlejohn is one of my favorite arenas. Love the "college town" feel of Clemson. The band, cheerleaders, dance team, etc are some of the best. Atmosphere is top notch.
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