My how fast things can change at this point. Over the last month Clemson fans have gone from worrying about whether or not there would be any football season at all to whether there would be any fans in the stands at Death Valley and would there be a band in the stands at all this season.
Very good questions, especially after seeing that other schools like North Carolina and Syracuse had already disbanded their bands for this year and there has been so much made about how many fans, if any, would be allowed in the stadium. Fans finally got the answers to these questions this week.
During a meeting with the media on Friday morning, Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich took the time to go into detail about what a game day visit this fall will look like. He touched on tailgating, student tickets, the marching band, and the iconic Hill.
In Thursday‘s announcement by Clemson that they would allow for approximately 19,000 fans inside Death Valley for games this fall, they asked that fans not tailgate in the parking lots. This was one of the things Radakovich discussed on Friday, saying that decision was made with the safety of the campus as a whole in mind.
“It really is one of those things where we need to protect the environment of campus,” Radakovich said. “You know we have students who will be here once we have our first opening game. We want our students to be able to have a safe environment on campus. We don’t want athletics to be the cause for any issues associated with the potential closure of campus by having so many people out and about in a tailgating environment.”
One of the great traditions at Clemson is the tailgating. So much so that fans have bought customized trailers to haul their big screen TVs, grilling equipment, and even mobile satellite equipment. That will not be the case this season though as there will not be huge gatherings like that allowed. However, hanging out with the small group you came in with shouldn’t be an issue.
“We’ve asked our fans who are going to have the ability to come to our games, park socially distant, and not to have trailers, not to have tents. Does that mean someone can’t get there, you know when we open the parking lots, three hours before the game, get out with the people inside their car, have a chicken-drumstick and a Coca-Cola, that’s not going to be a problem, we’re ok with that.”
Another thing that wasn’t specified in the school’s announcement on Thursday was how student tickets would be handled. Radakovich clarified that subject a little more also as he gave details on exactly where the students would be allowed to sit and how many student tickets would be available.
“The students will be in the south upper deck,” Radakovich said. “Those of you who are familiar with the stadium understand that the south upper deck is an isolated area. There’s one way in. Well, a couple of ways in and a couple of ways out but you can’t go anywhere but south upper deck.
“To keep them in their environment we wanted to place them in an area where that would be safe. We’re looking at probably in the neighborhood of 2,200 to 2,300 student tickets. It’s approximately the same percentage that they would have in a normal environment in Memorial Stadium.”
Two other issues that Radakovich went over on Friday were how seating on the Hill would be handled and what the specific plan for the Tiger Band was going to be.
“As it relates to the Hill, the band is going to be on the Hill,” Radakovich said. “And part of the reason for not putting students on the Hill and keeping them in the south upper deck is that the band kind of stays in place during the entire game does not walk around the stadium.
“We didn’t want to have students on the Hill because then at that point in time, they would be interacting with the fans who are in the lower deck. So, given the way the stadium is pulled together, it looked like a really great opportunity and option for us to place our students in the south upper deck, it will only be students there, and put the band on the hill.”
Many Tiger fans will be happy to know that one of the biggest game day traditions will be kept in place. They will still get to see the Tigers run down the Hill. Radakovich confirmed on Friday that the team will still be loadIng the buses, take the short trip around the stadium, and make their traditional entrance into Memorial Stadium.
Is this going to make every Clemson fan happy? No, that is never going to happen as everyone should realize by now. You can never make everyone happy but it is a plan that at least gives us the opportunity to have football which every fan has been hoping for. This season has the chance to be special and most Clemson fans would admit that deep down they just want these guys to have the opportunity to play.