From John Heisman to Howard's Rock, Clemson Tigers football is steeped in history and tradition. While it may not be successful at the same level of some of the top programs in the nation historically, it clearly ranks as a big-time college football program, with an abundance of the quintessential items that make college football so great.
Memorial Stadium was originally constructed in 1942 with a capacity of 20,500. 75 years and several upgrades later, it has increased to the 81,500-seat college football staple that it is today. Famed for its noise and traditions, it was nicknamed Death Valley by then-Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillan in 1948 because of just how difficult it is to win there. Memorial Stadium easily qualifies for any college football fan's "must-see" list.
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What Memorial Stadium might lack in unique concessions, it makes up for in volume. Concession stands ring the lower bowl and the upper deck, making it easy to grab food quickly from anywhere. Every stand offers virtually the same options, so you won't have to walk far.
The only potential knock on food options here is the variety of items. While the stands around the stadium have a lot of options, there isn't a variance from stand to stand. These items include brats ($5), jumbo hot dogs ($4.50), hot dogs ($3.50), jumbo Papa John's pizza slices ($6 for pepperoni or cheese), boiled peanuts ($6), regular peanuts and nachos ($5), pretzels ($4), popcorn and candy ($3), and potato chips ($2). Some stands do have additional items, like chicken fingers ($7), bacon cheese fries ($5), hamburgers ($5) and corn dogs ($3.50). There are a variety of small stands selling Dippin' Dots, pretzels, funnel cakes and other standard stadium cart options.
Coke products are sold around the stadium, with beverages including jumbo souvenir sodas ($6), souvenir sodas ($4), hot coffee ($4) and bottled water ($4). Beer and alcohol are not sold at Memorial Stadium.
Basically anything off of the standard stadium menu is here, and there aren't a ton of unique items, so grab your favorite stadium staple with a souvenir Coke and enjoy the game.
Death Valley has a lofty reputation for stadium atmosphere, and in a lot of ways, it meets or exceeds those expectations. Arrive early and stay late at a Tigers game.
If you enter the stadium from the campus-facing end zone, you'll immediately be greeted by the best view. Standing atop the famed grassy hill, you'll face the enclosed end zone and towering upper decks on either side. Immediately in front of you at the top of the hill will sit Howard's Rock, which was given to coach Frank Howard as a keepsake from Death Valley in California. The Tigers rub the rock before running down the hill before each game Video boards can be found at either end of the stadium within view of every fan.
Seats are almost exclusively bleachers, with the upper deck rising so steeply that your feet will be almost to the neck of the person in front of you. While this adds to the closed-in feel of the stadium, it can make moving around the upper deck a bit of a harrowing experience.
Clemson football is most well known for its entrance to the field. The team boards a bus and circles the stadium 10 minutes prior to kickoff, before entering above the grassy hill. The fight song blares and balloons fly as the team rubs Howard's Rock and charges down the hill in what is often called "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football." Tiger Rag and the Clemson cheer ring out throughout the game, helping the stadium live up to its Death Valley reputation.
There are two distinct experiences in terms of seating at Memorial Stadium. The lower bowl is enclosed to create an acoustically imposing atmosphere. The colors and spectacle make these seats desirable, as you'll be in the middle of all of it. The upper deck, however, is one of the more uncomfortable upper decks I've visited. It's completely separated from the lower deck (including by accessibility) and is incredibly vertical. Walking the aisles can feel like a balancing act, and the sheer height of the stadium puts you a bit outside of the imposing auditory experience.
Memorial Stadium is in the heart of a dictionary definition of a college town. Clemson, South Carolina, is a bit off the beaten path of interstates and away from major cities, which is often what gives college football its charm.
Easily the most recognizable non-stadium staple of a Clemson football weekend is the Esso Club. This famed former gas station is located on Old Greenville Highway (South Carolina Highway 93). This converted sports bar is open late six days a week and commonly shows up on major media publications as one of the best college football food stops. TD's Tavern and Tiger Town Tavern are other popular local options.
Aside from food, the Clemson campus is the center of attention on game day. Being such a remote small town, there's not a lot in the immediate vicinity. So if you aren't partaking in the massive tailgate, take your time to stroll through campus on the way to the game. There are a few attractions that are basically on campus, including the South Carolina Botanical Gardens and Fort Hill Plantation.
There aren't many hotels in the immediate area, so if you want to stay near campus book early at the University Inn & Conference Center, Hampton Inn or Comfort Inn University Area. The nearest large city is Greenville, which is about 30 minutes away, so if you're looking for more options than just game day, there are a variety of options to keep you entertained if you stay there.
It's not called Death Valley for nothing. Memorial Stadium is widely considered one of the loudest stadiums in college football. Tailgates outside the stadium extend for miles as fans arrive early and leave late.
Clemson typically averages in the top 20 in the country in attendance, with recent figures exceeding 81,000 per game. Average attendance is often at -- or exceeding -- stadium capacity.
But the crowds don't just show up, they are loud and engaged. They chant during Tiger Rag, get after the opposing teams and in general love their Tigers. Memorial Stadium has a reputation for being a difficult place to play, and that's largely a credit to the Tiger faithful.
If there's something Clemson has to be rated down on, it's access. Getting to the stadium and getting around at the game can be incredibly difficult. Some of that can be chalked up to the number of fans, but there are other things that make it even more difficult than it has to be.
If you're travelling in, the nearest decent-sized airport is on the other side of Greenville, about 45 minutes away. There's no real public transportation to use to get to the stadium, so you'll generally have to plan your drive. And plan to drive early.
Parking here can be an absolute disaster. The vast majority of parking anywhere near the stadium is reserved parking. This is great if you're a Clemson fan that attends every game, but for a visitor, it creates a problem. Lots aren't well-labeled, and general parking (from free to $30) can be clear across campus or on the other side of the river, so expect long walks. This is a stadium where you definitely need to research before you arrive; otherwise, you can expect to be confused in traffic for extended periods of time.
Gate entry can be congested, but not beyond any reasonable expectation for an 81,000-seat stadium. Some of the employees seemed very confused about where tickets were when we visited, and it created a hold-up on more than one occasion, but I can't imagine this is the norm.
There are several bottlenecks around the lower concourse, and almost no sightlines to the field. Fortunately, TVs with the game are everywhere. One of the most annoying things is for fans in the upper deck. There is no way to move from the upper to lower deck without exiting the stadium altogether. This can create another extremely confusing experience, and is yet another reason to pay more for a lower deck seat. Restrooms, however, are clean and plentiful. No problems there!
While not a particularly cheap experience, Death Valley in Clemson, South Carolina, is one of those college football experiences you need to do at least once.
Ticket prices can vary from $40 all the way up to triple digits for big games, which is pretty typical for major college football in the southeast. Expect to pay more to sit in the desirable lower deck though. Food pricing is about average and parking can be free to average (walk notwithstanding). Overall, it's definitely worth the trip.
Tradition is the name of the game in college football, and a Clemson game brings more than its share. From Howard's Rock being readily available for every fan to rub, to the team rubbing the rock and running down the hill, to John Heisman himself coaching the Tigers from 1900-1903, the program is chock-full of tradition and extras. Tradition and pageantry is what makes college football great, and Clemson brings it here. Memorial Stadium is in the elite college football category of "must-visit."
Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina, was built from 1941-1942 in a small valley on the west side of campus. In 1942, the Clemson Tigers won the first football game at the stadium, 32-13, over Presbyterian College. Since then, the wins have continued to pile up in Memorial Stadium, or, as it has become widely known as among Clemson supporters, "Death Valley." The Tigers have a 227-88-7 record in Death Valley, including a 3-0 mark against defending national champions (beating Georgia in 1981, Georgia Tech in 1991 and Auburn in 2011. Watch out, 2020 national champions).
The stadium was also the brief home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers, who played there in their first season in 1995 before moving to Bank of America Stadium. The main attraction here, however, is college football, specifically Clemson University football. There are few cities that are absolutely obsessed with their college football team. Clemson, South Carolina, is one of those few cities, as you can't go anywhere without seeing the Tiger Paw (Clemson's official logo). The town revolves around the school and the athletics program in a way few towns do.
One of college football's most popular traditions takes place in Death Valley, as the Tigers touch Howard's Rock and charge down the hill onto the field. This is known to many college football fans simply as "The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football."
When college football fans think of Clemson football, many things come to mind. There are the 18 conference titles (14 of those in the ACC, the largest total in that conference's history). The nearly 70 All-Americans and 170 NFL players may also enter the thoughts of some. Still others may cite the 1981 national championship, Howard's Rock, or “The Hill.” Whatever makes you think of Clemson, its rich history and place in the game's fabric cannot be argued.
The school, once coached by none other than John Heisman himself, opened its current home, Memorial Stadium, in 1942. The facility has seen several upgrades from its initial 20,500-seat capacity, and now seats four times as many fans. Death Valley – so nicknamed by former Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillan in 1948, because his teams annually lost there – even served as the home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers during their opening season in 1995, before moving to Bank of America Stadium the following season.
It is far too often the case that experiences do not live up to the hype. We can all cite at least one example of a so-called “classic” that left us wanting more. Memorial Stadium needs to be on every college football fan's “to-do” list. The experience is unlike virtually any other you will ever have.
By far the best college stadium I've ever been too. The crowd is fantastic and never seems to quiet down. Easily the best in the ACC at a bare min.
This place is awesome. There is no stadium or atmosphere like it. The fans are electric.
Clemson is a true college football town. The place was crazy before the game and everything about the area was something else that I cannot really describe.
The stadium itself was okay. You pretty much have slabs of concrete making up the stadium but with some nice touches on the gates and the end zone exteriors as well as the brick facade on the walls around the field. But that green hill with Howard's Rock overlooking is definitely unique and cool.
The fans were awesome. They were knowledgeable, into the game, and most importantly classy. The food was okay as the variety felt limited.
Only complaint was that is somewhat of a challenge getting to the stadium and leaving. Not a great spot here. Overall though, if you're a college football fan, this place is a must visit.
Originally for SC but from Houston now I still come to Clemson games. Clemson have the best fans and they treat opposing teams better than anyone. 2013 Georgia coming back on schedule. Still waiting for Bama to visit Death Valley. If you make it to a game you will not be dissappointed.
I've been to nearly every Division 1 Football stadium here in the southeast and Clemson is by far the best of them
Memorial Stadium is a great stadium, with a tremendous atmosphere and great fans, especially during the Bowden Bowl back in the day. I would avoid the cheap seats, however, the rise is very steep and looking down is a little daunting. I have been to many stadiums and the angles here are by far the most unnerving.
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