Before its thorough makeover and renaming in 2003, “Beautiful Tiger Field” described the home of the Clemson Tigers. Not surprising, and not an overstated moniker. While the ballpark and other athletic facilities are closely connected to the western edge of campus, the grandstand view features an appealing pastoral feel.
Year Opened: 1970; $5 million renovation completed in 2003
Capacity: 6,127 (3,500 permanent seats)
Architect: Populous (2003 renovation)
Dimensions: 320L, 370LC, 400C, 366RC, 330R
Playing Surface: Grass
Phone: 864/656-2118 or 800/253-6766
Address/Directions: The stadium is located to the southwest of the corner of Perimeter Rd. and E. Bank Dr., Clemson. From the southwest, take I-85 north to exit 14. Take a left, which crosses over the interstate, onto South Carolina Highway 187 until the road runs into U.S. Highway 76 and 28. Make a left at this traffic light. Stay on this road until exiting at Highway 93 and take a left at the stop light. The route runs into the Clemson campus. Stay straight until reaching the second stoplight after the tennis courts (tennis courts will be on the left). Take a left at the stoplight and then take the first right into the McFadden Building parking lot. From the northeast, take I-85 south to exit 19B onto U.S. 76 and 28 until the Highway 93 exit, then follow the directions listed above.
Text and Photos by: Jim Robins
By the looks of it, you might even be tempted to describe the setting as tranquil. But that perception likely will vanish once the Tigers take the field. The crowd is lively, and Kingsmore Stadium’s design only magnifies the dynamic effect. Doug Kingsmore played in the outfield for Clemson in the early 1950s and became the first Tiger to reach double digits in homers. As a senior, he slugged 10 home runs in 1954. Decades later, Kingsmore joined the university’s Board of Trustees and contributed one-fifth of the $5 million cost of renovations completed in 2003.
The major makeover successfully integrated existing core stadium elements with numerous practical and aesthetic improvements. A new façade with overhanging roof provides plaza areas that protect fans from inclement weather during a game, or can be used for a variety of social events year-round. Ballpark security was bolstered with the addition of an ornamental wrought iron and brick fence. The enhanced plaza features a large concession area, and includes tiger-striped pavement and giant tire-paw gardens. Other upgrades include expanded restrooms and press box, enlarged field-level dugouts, four inside batting cages beyond the right field fence, a grand stairway entrance with Hall of Fame area, and seating and parking improvements.
With the winding Old Seneca River flowing just outside the stadium and around adjacent parking areas, the site presents a challenge to any major expansion. To Clemson’s credit, the university continually reinvests in the ballpark to keep it among the leading college facilities. In 2005, the football stadium’s old Paw Vision scoreboard was moved to the left of the batter’s eye. In 2008, new lights were installed. Given the steady upgrades, it isn’t surprising to find Doug Kingsmore Stadium named to host NCAA regional tourneys more often than not. A likely factor in the hosting decision is the “Super-Sopper” field drying machine that helps avoid postponed games. Of course, 21 consecutive tournament appearances through 2007 for the Tigers also have to factor in favorably.
In April 2008, Clemson trustees granted initial approval for $3 million in new improvements to add 1,000 seats and further expand concession areas and restrooms. Although specific details are yet to be worked out, it appears likely that the standing room area down the left field line will be reduced or eliminated. Additional seating will be located in the outfield and down the left field line. The decision to expand seating capacity comes as no surprise. Average game attendance has set new records for four straight years, climbing to an average of 4,810 per game in 2007. Clemson ranks among the national collegiate leaders in average attendance. The University’s commitment to gradually improving the stadium, coupled with a consistently high level of play, are likely to keep Tiger home games in high demand.
Our visit in February 2008 came on a chilly Sunday afternoon. The first thing you notice upon entering the ballpark is the closeness of the main seating area to home plate. For the home team the close proximity is inviting, but visitors often comment that they find it intimidating. Those backed seats in the main grandstand are popular, and they sell out early. Frankly, the bench seating down the left field line is not an ideal vantage point. The enlarged dugouts and broad bullpens are great for the teams, but can be a bit distracting for spectators seated down the line. Still, the high energy throughout the place keeps every fan engaged. Students tend to occupy the raised nooks and crannies located beyond the fence near the left field foul pole and extending toward center beyond the big scoreboard. A hand-painted sign overlooking the parking lot proclaims this area as the “Back Porch.” Lawn chair seating is also available at ground level just beyond the fence. These areas most likely will be updated with permanent seating during the next phase of renovation.
The courtyard area between the rear of the grandstand and main entrance includes tiger paw gardens and tiger-striped pavement heading to the main concession area. It is easiest to observe this unique design by heading to the top of the grandstand and gazing down on the courtyard and river beyond. Once the trees are in bloom, it can be a lovely view.
As for concessions, you will find mostly standard fare. Take your pick of a hamburger, jumbo hot dog or a brat for $4; French fries or peanuts go for $3; and chicken fingers for $5. The most exotic offering (from the perspective of a Northerner, at least) is boiled peanuts at $4; I’m told they’re an acquired taste.
Kingmore Stadium is one of those ballparks where simple words cannot do the place justice. Not exactly the lap of luxury, you cannot miss the sense of history and authenticity here. Baseball comes first, and the faithful, knowledgeable fans appreciate that quality. While we look forward to improvements in the near future, we are confident that the essence of Beautiful Tiger Field will remain.