March 5, 2017

After a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in 2016’s College Football Playoff National Championship, the Clemson Football team worked harder than ever to earn a rematch and, with only a few minutes left on the clock, upset The Crimson Tide in true cinematic fashion to win the 2017 national championship game 35-31—bringing home Clemson's first national football title since 1981.

In a field office covered with Clemson emblems and gear, the DPR Construction team mirrored the spirit and work ethic of their national championship customer to complete a new $55 million, 140,000-sq.-ft. football operations center by National Signing Day in February 2017.


Champions on and off the field: the DPR team poses with Clemson’s national championship trophy. (Photo courtesy: Bryan McCaffrey)

Home to the national championship trophy, Clemson’s new center is fully loaded with amenities, including a bowling alley, hydrotherapy pools, X-ray suite, 25,000-sq.-ft. weight room, production studio, barber shop and a replica of Clemson’s famous Death Valley hill, and is set to become a major tool in the competitive college football recruiting landscape. 

The project overcame challenges including:

  • Tight schedule: Although work couldn’t begin until Clemson’s soccer team completed its run for the national title (they were using the existing site as a practice field), the project still needed to be completed as originally planned in just 12 months, in time for the next football recruitment season.
  • Procurement: Because of DPR’s previous work on Clemson’s life sciences facility, the Clemson team trusted DPR to manage the football operations center’s expansive and complex procurement process, resulting in more than 85 contracts that DPR managed, ranging from MEP to indoor golf simulators and bowling alleys.


An aerial shot from December 2016 shows how Clemson sits along the banks of Lake Hartwell and the Seneca River Basin, creating a shallow 3-foot water table that presented a challenge for the team. (Photo courtesy: Ashley Conklin) 

  • Water table: Clemson sits along the banks of Lake Hartwell and the Seneca River Basin, creating a shallow 3-foot water table that presented a challenge for the facility’s 10-foot deep hydrotherapy and lap pools. The DPR team closely coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers and watershed management to minimize the impact of rain and groundwater on the project schedule.
  • Building codes: The team needed to connect the new facility to an existing indoor/outdoor practice field built under an older building code. With the help of an engineering firm and the State Engineers Office, the team created an engineered life safety system, preventing the cost and delay of having to upgrade the slightly older building as well, saving Clemson $1.3 million.


The Clemson football operations center features 10-foot deep hydrotherapy and lap pools. (Photo courtesy: Thomas Watkins)

“Sports facilities are unique opportunities to leverage our expertise as a national technical builder,” said DPR’s Bryan McCaffrey. “These types of projects are much more sophisticated today than ever before–whether it’s mitigating a water table to accommodate a hydrotherapy pool or building the only red clay tennis courts in North America for the USTA. Combined with accelerated timeframes and the public spotlight of a fan base and team eager to move in to their new home, sports facilities are growing much more complex."

Other sports facilities recently completed in the Southeast include the University of Georgia Indoor Athletic Facility–which was completed on an accelerated schedule to allow the team to use it for bowl game practices–and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida, which is the largest tennis facility in North America. Up next is Florida Atlantic University’s $40 million Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, set to open in the summer of 2018.  


Clemson’s football operations center (locker room pictured above) is set to become a major tool in the competitive college football recruiting landscape. (Photo courtesy: Thomas Watkins)