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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Littlejohn Coliseum – Clemson Tigers

Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Littlejohn Coliseum 219 Perimeter Road Clemson, SC 29634

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 9,000


Littlejohn Coliseum – Clemson Tigers

While Clemson University might be best known for their National Championship football program, Clemson basketball has typically been one of the more annually competitive teams in the ACC.

The inception of basketball at Clemson dates back to 1911 as members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association – the Tigers would join the Southern Conference a decade later, winning the conference title in 1921. Clemson would later move on to the Atlantic Coast Conference as one of its founding members in 1953, where they have been ever since.

Originally playing at the local YMCA, the Tigers would move on campus in 1930 to the Finke Recreation Center, a facility that is still in use today as a campus recreation building. This would remain their home for 38 years until the opening of Littlejohn Coliseum in 1968. Over the years, Littlejohn has undergone two major renovations, the first in 2003 and the second in 2015, which required the Tigers to play their home games at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in nearby Greenville.

Food & Beverage   4

Concession stands are evenly spaced around Littlejohn Coliseum; immediately upon entering the Burton Gallery, the main lobby area of Littlejohn Coliseum, fans are greeted by a concession stand and a coffee shop, Blue Ridge Beanery. In addition to the typical concession stand in the lobby area, five others are found around the concourse – options are the typical arena choices such as hot dogs and hamburgers, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, candy, and Coca-Cola products.

A taste of regional and local cuisines are available by way of boiled peanuts served at concessions stands, as well as the Greenville, South Carolina-based “Mac Attack” and their variation on the cheesy comfort dish, mac and cheese. Mac Attack’s menu also includes Nashville hot chicken, pulled pork, and traditional mac and cheese.

When it comes to sweet treats, the ever popular “Dippin’ Dots” cart is missing, but in its place is a shaved ice stand which offers four flavors. Even in the cold winter months, this cart might be one of the more popular items in the arena.

Clemson chooses not to sell alcoholic beverages in its general seating area.


Atmosphere   4

Littlejohn Coliseum‘s use of glass, visible exterior support beams, and modern lighting complements the brick of the original building, giving the exterior arena a contemporary feel to it, which continues inside where the concourse allows plenty of natural light in from all sides.

As fans pass through the arena’s concourse, the large multi-screen video board is impossible to miss. Six screens, with two large screens facing each of the sideline seating areas, two smaller screens facing end line seating, and yet two more sets of screens at an angle on the underside of the scoreboard, keep fans seated near the court from having to wrench their necks upward all game long. Two smaller, more traditional wall-mounted scoreboards are displayed above each of the team tunnels as well.

Once inside the playing area, fans are greeted by Clemson’s massive orange paw print logo at center court, and a sea of purple seats that are nicely offset by the orange benches of the student section and pep-band area, along with the luxurious white seats of the Coliseum Club.

Several banners honoring Clemson basketball alumni who have left a significant impact on the men’s and women’s programs hang from the rafters. In addition, the walls along the arena's upper-most reaches recognize the team accomplishments of both programs, including conference championships and NCAA tournament successes.

Much as he does at Clemson football games, DJ SHA is an integral part of entertaining fans during pregame warmups and breaks in the action throughout the game, with his mix of popular music before and during.

Throughout the game, the Clemson band and spirit squads do an excellent job creating an air of college basketball excitement – whether it is a rendition of current pop music, rounds of the ever popular “Tiger Rag”, or the sub 4-minute timeout when the cheer squad spells out “C-L-E-M-S-O-N” with individual flags accompanied by yet another round of “Tiger Rag”. Clemson fans have a lot of pride in the traditions of the university, and the excitement that comes along with them really helps build a home court advantage for the Tigers.

In all, Clemson does a good job creating an atmosphere of school spirit, and gets fans excited in support of their school.


Neighborhood   4

Clemson, South Carolina is a quintessential college town where the university is the center of most that goes on in the area. College Avenue, the focal point of Clemson’s game day and nighttime entertainment, is less than a mile from Littlejohn Coliseum; just off the northern edge of campus, this area is highly populated with bars and restaurants. While this area has many places to grab a bite or drink before or after a game, during basketball games it does lack a bit of the excitement that occurs during football game days.

While College Avenue has the highest concentration of popular bars and restaurants, The Esso Club, one of Clemson’s legendary watering holes, is just a short walk from the north side of Littlejohn.

Clemson is a terrific college town with plenty of places to grab a bite or drink before or after a game, many of them within a reasonable walk from Littlejohn Coliseum. The only knock is the area lacks a bit of the big event feel on basketball game days, but this doesn’t take away from the overall college town feel to the bars and restaurants.


Fans   3

Students are the life blood of the top college basketball atmospheres in the country, and Clemson’s students do not disappoint. Their seating runs the length of the sideline opposite the team benches, as well as along the baseline bleachers at the visitors end of the floor. Students do a good job being vocal in support of their Tigers, are into the game, and engage in good-natured disruptive behavior throughout. Other fans seem to be a bit more reserved during play, but do react as expected in response to Clemson baskets and big defensive plays. On the whole, fans will get boisterous, but it seems as if they are waiting for a reason to be loud, rather than being loud for the sake of creating an imposing atmosphere.

On average, Clemson typically draws more than 7,500 fans to the 9,000-seat Littlejohn Coliseum. When the bluebloods of the ACC come to town it is typical for Littlejohn to be sold out, and there will be an extremely electric atmosphere in the arena.

Fan support seems to ebb and flow with the success the Tigers see on the floor – basketball will probably not challenge football for the most interest around campus; you are apt to see more fans clad in Clemson football jerseys in support of their Tigers than basketball apparel. Overall though, Clemson fans get support their Tigers regardless of the sport. Understandably, however, there does not seem to be the same unconditional support for basketball that football receives.


Access   3

The Clemson campus is just about 15 minutes off I-85, which runs east of town. Fans flying in for a game can use the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, or even Charlotte or Atlanta, which will have more direct flights into the area. Both are about a 2.5-hour drive, so driving from either is manageable.

Parking directly at Littlejohn Coliseum does require a parking pass, which is part of the membership to Clemson’s fundraising organization, IPTAY. There is free parking just outside the outfield wall of Doug Kingsmore Stadium and along the eastern side of Memorial Stadium; other free parking lots can be found along Walter T. Cox Boulevard.

Fans enter into the Bentley Gallery lobby area for a security check prior to scanning tickets and passing on to the concourse. Several entry points lead into the arena at the top of the court level seating, where a walkway passes partially between entries. There is no continuous walkway within the seating area.

All-in-all, getting to Clemson and accessing the arena does not offer major hurdles – just some basic inconveniences that create minor annoyances which quickly pass.


Return on Investment   4

Tickets in the upper level of Littlejohn Coliseum start at $20 before ticket fees are applied. The secondary market seemingly is the best way to go, where the same $20 tickets can be purchased for $10-$15. Games against some of the marquee opponents on the schedule start at $70 in the upper level, before fees.

The best deal for those looking to attend multiple Tiger games in a season are the non-conference flex packs; fans can get tickets to 6 games for under $50. Other packages offer weekend or weekday tickets for the season for under $100 – even the season tickets for under $200 is a good deal considering it also includes access to women’s basketball and gymnastics events.

For those who plan to attend multiple games throughout the season, there are good deals out there, but single tickets are hit or miss when it comes to finding deals.

Overall, when taking into account no parking fees, affordable concessions prices, and average ticket prices, fans are getting an overall good return here on their money spent.


Extras   3

Many of the extras at Littlejohn Coliseum are centered around the recognition of the history of Clemson athletic programs. For example, just outside the western entrance of Burton Gallery there are plaques recognizing the individuals enshrined in the Clemson Athletics Hall of Fame; these stretch along a long wall just outside the ticket offices.

The concourse of Littlejohn Coliseum continues the Clemson athletics history lesson – the walls feature not just the heroes and heroines in Clemson basketball history in a series called “Littlejohn Legends”, but also delves into the timeline of Littlejohn Coliseum, from its completion in 1968 through the renovations of the 2000s and the arena it is today. Also, a look at the evolution of the Clemson Tiger mascot is featured.

Additionally, in an ode to the university following the game, the entire men’s basketball program spreads across the court and drape their arms across one another, as they and the fans still in attendance sing the Clemson Alma Mater.


Final Thoughts

Basketball in the ACC comes with a certain level of tradition and intensity that only a few other conferences can rival on a night-in and night-out basis. These factors go a long way in creating a college basketball atmosphere that is both fun and exciting.

The experience at Clemson does not disappoint – whether it is an early season, non-conference foe or a marquee conference rival, Littlejohn Coliseum promises to give a top-level college basketball experience.

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