Memorial Stadium, Clemson

Memorial Stadium, Clemson
Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium
"Death Valley"
A view of the West End Zone and Lake Hartwell from the upper deck of the North stands. Sept. 2006.
Location Avenue of Champions, Clemson, SC 29634
Coordinates 34°40′43″N 82°50′35″W / 34.67861°N 82.84306°W / 34.67861; -82.84306Coordinates: 34°40′43″N 82°50′35″W / 34.67861°N 82.84306°W / 34.67861; -82.84306
Broke ground October 6, 1941[1]
Opened September 19, 1942
Expanded 1958, 1960, 1978, 1983, 2006
Owner Clemson University
Operator Clemson University
Surface Grass
Construction cost $125,000 (original stadium)
($2.02 million in 2011 dollars[2])
Architect Carl Lee and Professor H.E. Glenn
Capacity 81,500 (2008-present)
80,301 (2006-2007)
77,381 (2005)
81,473 (1983-2004)
53,000 (1978-1982)
43,658 (1960-1977)
38,000 (1958-1959)
20,000 (1942-1957)
Record attendance 86,092 (Clemson Tigers v Florida State) (1999)
Clemson Tigers (NCAA) (1942–present)
Carolina Panthers (NFL) (1995)

Frank Howard Field at Memorial Stadium, popularly known as Death Valley, is home to the Clemson University Tigers, a NCAA Division I-A football team, located in Clemson, South Carolina. Built in 1941-1942, the stadium has been expanded throughout the years, with the most recent, the WestZone, began in 2004.

Prior to the completion of Bank of America Stadium, in Charlotte, it was used by the Carolina Panthers NFL team, in its inaugural 1995 season.

The stadium has hosted concerts by many famous artists, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, and Rage Against the Machine, among others.

Currently, the stadium is the second largest in the Atlantic Coast Conference.




The stadium was constructed against the wishes of the late and former Clemson Head Coach Jess Neely. Just before leaving for Rice University after the 1939 season, he told Frank Howard, "Don't ever let them talk you into building a big stadium. Put about 10,000 seats behind the YMCA. That's all you'll ever need."[3] Despite this, the University decided it was time to build a stadium.[4] They chose to build in the valley in the western part of campus. On April 3, 1941, the South Carolina General Assembly ratified an act authorizing a $150,000 bond issue for the new stadium, and the bill went to Governor Burnet R. Maybank for signature.[5] The original 20,000 seat stadium was constructed for $125,000 or $6.25 a seat.[5] The stadium was designed by Carl Lee of Charlotte, N.C., a Clemson graduate, Class of 1908, and Professor H. E. Glenn of the engineering faculty.[5] On September 19, 1942, Memorial Stadium was opened with a 32-13 victory over Presbyterian College.[6] Much of the early construction of the stadium was done by scholarship athletes. In fact, the first staking out of the stadium was done by A. N. Cameron and Hugh Webb, two members of the football team.

In 1958, 18,000 sideline seats were added[5] and in 1960, 5,658 west end zone seats were added in response to increasing attendance.[5] The original cedar wood seating was replaced in 1972 by aluminum seats. As attendance continued to skyrocket, an upper deck was added to each side of the stadium. The south upper deck (Top Deck South) was added in 1978[5] and the north upper deck (Top Deck North) in 1983. This put the total capacity over 80,000,[5] which made it one of the largest on campus stadiums in the United States. The most recent expansion started in 2004 and will continue through at least 2009. The first phase of the "WestZone" project closed in the west endzone of Death Valley, added new luxury box and club seating, and completely renovated the locker rooms. The second phase, which was completed prior to the 2009 football season, brought all football offices and team meeting rooms to the WestZone from the McFadden Building and also added dedicated football training and strength conditioning facilities. The stadium's maximum capacity is 81,500 but has seated crowds as large as 86,092.

On January 14, 2011, Clemson announced a new $50 million athletic building plan. Facility improvements for football will include building an indoor practice facility and finishing the WestZone project. The indoor practice facility, which will be located where the current practice fields are, will feature a regulation-size artificial turf football field, a coach’s tower and video platforms. The building will have large garage-style doors, which can be raised to create an open-air space. The estimated cost of the project is $10 million. “The indoor practice facility will be a highly significant addition for Clemson, not only for football but also for other sports to use,” Phillips said. The $15.3 million WestZone project will feature the oculus, which is the main entrance to the WestZone, a four-level museum and an expansion of the northwest concourse. Construction on the northwest concourse expansion is slated to begin soon and will be completed by the start of the 2011 season.[7]

Scroll of Honor

A memorial to the 470 Clemson service personnel killed while on military duty was dedicated outside Gate 1 on April 22, 2010. A flypast of two T-34B Mentors concluded the ceremonies.[8]

Death Valley

The term "Death Valley" comes from the fact that the field is physically situated in a valley. But two additional facts also add to the mystique. First, the university cemetery sits on a hill that once overlooked the field before the upper decks were constructed. The other reference comes from the late Lonnie McMillian, the former football coach at Presbyterian College. He told sports writers in 1948 that he had "to take his team up to Clemson and play in death valley" where they rarely scored or gained a victory.[4] The nickname stuck to an extent, but when Clemson Head Coach Frank Howard started calling it that in the 1950s, the nickname really caught on. The nickname was solidified when Frank Howard received what came to be known as "Howard's Rock" from an alumnus, S.C. Jones, who had picked it up in Death Valley, California.

Death Valley facts

  • Clemson is 227-88-7 at Death Valley, over 71% winning percentage.
  • Clemson has ranked in the top 20 in the nation in average attendance 22 consecutive seasons
  • In 1999, Coach Tommy Bowden's first year, the attendance record was set at the game against Florida State, whose head coach was Tommy's father, Bobby. One of many memorable moments from that night was Bobby Bowden's wife, Ann Bowden, wearing a sweater that was half Clemson and half FSU that read "Father|Son."

Clemson Top Single Game Attendance Figures

Year Opponent Attendance
1999 Florida State 86,092
1994 South Carolina 85,872
2000 South Carolina 85,187
2001 Florida State 85,036
2001 North Carolina 84,869
1988 South Carolina 84,876
1988 Florida State 84,576
1998 South Carolina 84,423


"Howard's Rock"

In the early 1960s, the rock was given to then head coach Frank Howard by a friend, Samuel Columbus Jones (Clemson Class of 1919).[9] It was presented to Howard by Jones, saying "Here's a rock from Death Valley, California, to Death Valley, South Carolina."[3] Howard didn't think anything else about the rock and it was used as a door stop in his office for several years. In September 1966, while cleaning out his office, Howard noticed the rock and told IPTAY executive director Gene Willimon, "Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in the something with it, but get it out of my office."[3] Willimon had the rock placed on a pedestal at the top of the east endzone hill that the team ran down to enter the field for games.[4] On September 24, 1966, the first time Clemson players ran by the rock, they beat conference rival Virginia, 40-35.[10] Howard, seizing on the motivational potential of "The Rock", told his players, "Give me 110% or keep your filthy hands off of my rock."[4] The team started rubbing the Rock for the first game of 1967, which was a 23-6 waxing of ACC foe Wake Forest. [1]

It is now a tradition for the Clemson Army ROTC to "protect" the Rock for the 24 hours prior to the Clemson-South Carolina game when held in Death Valley. ROTC cadets keep a steady drum cadence around the rock prior to the game, which can be heard across the campus.

"Running Down the Hill"

Probably the most highly publicized traditions of the Clemson Tigers football team is the entrance, which has been referred to as "The Most Exciting 25 seconds in College Football."[3] After exiting the stadium on the west side, the players load into 2 buses which, escorted by police officers, make their way around the stadium to the east side where The Hill is located. This scene is shown on the JumboTron inside the stadium. When the buses arrive at the east side the players get out and gather at the top of the hill and stand around Howard's Rock, once most of the players are out of the buses and ready to go a cannon sounds, the band begins to play Tiger Rag and the players make their way down the hill. The spelling out of C-L-E-M-S-O-N during this Tiger Rag is one of, if not the, loudest times it will be spelled out during the game.[citation needed]

At the end of the 2008 season the Tigers have made the run down the hill 327 times.



  1. ^
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Howard, Frank, with Bradley, Bob, and Parker, Virgil, "Howard", Howard, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1990, ISBN 0-934904-22-7, page 135.
  4. ^ a b c d Bradley, Bob, "Death Valley Days", Longstreet Press, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, 1991, Library of Congress card number 91-061931, ISBN 1-56352-006-0, page 11.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Blackman, Sam, Bradley, Bob, and Kriese, Chuck, "Clemson: Where the Tigers Play", Sports Publishing, L.L.C., Champaign, Illinois, 2001, ISBN 1-58261-369-9, page 33.
  6. ^ Clemson Athletic Department, "2001 Clemson Football", Keys Printing, Greenville, South Carolina, 2001, no ISBN , page 339.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Clemson Alumni Association, "Clemson Alumni: Today 2008", Harris Connect, Inc., Chesapeake, Virginia, 2007, no ISBN , page 1904.
  10. ^ Clemson Athletic Department, "2001 Clemson Football", Keys Printing, Greenville, South Carolina, 2001, no ISBN , page 340.

External links

Preceded by
Riggs Field
Home of the
Clemson Tigers

1942 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Carolina Panthers

Succeeded by
Ericsson Stadium

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