I have a soft spot for arenas that are a) nice, and b) older than me. Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum opened in 1968 and since then it’s hosted all sorts of
elite very good basketball players. Tree Rollins. Billy Williams. Horace Grant. Elden Campbell. Dale Davis. Sharone Wright.
Littlejohn is a cool spot because it did a great job embracing Clemson basketball history, and it’s in a place where it is almost impossible to feel uncomfortable. Clemson, SC is a great college town. And the fans – at least for basketball, which they don’t entirely take seriously – are polite, helpful, and fun. (*note – I visited right after they completed their last renovation, removing that weird track that was in there). Littlejohn certainly won’t rank on any top-10 arena list I ever make, but it’s a solid ‘B’. If you’re an ACC fan and you’ve never seen a game there, it’s worth the trip. Especially now, because – according to one writer – following two studies looking at potential options, it’s going away.
The excellent blog Shakin the Southland also reports that "every indicator points to the Board of Trustees approving the construction."
There’s an arms race in college basketball, and the ACC is front and center. With the addition of Syracuse (2013) and Louisville (2014) the conference will now have three of the top four drawing college basketball teams in the nation. They’ll have six of the last thirteen national titles, and that doesn’t include Maryland’s 2002 title, as the Terps will be jumping to the Big Ten at the same time that Louisville arrives.
North Carolina, Syracuse, Louisville, Duke – these are the elite ACC programs. Which means that everyone else has to jostle for position. The best way to do that is by providing student-athletes with swag – arenas, practice facilities, living quarters, support staff, etc… The richer schools (Virginia, NC State, Notre Dame, etc...) have an easier time of this. But the rest have to keep up. Whatever that takes.
Georgia Tech underwent a $45 million dollar renovation. Several other schools have expensive wish-lists that are seeking funding. And now Clemson. I guess I’ll have to make another visit.