After years of controversy and discussion, changes to Clemson’s annual baseball series with South Carolina have been announced. In 2010, the rivalry shifted from its four game season series that was spread across two weekends to a single weekend, 3 game series, featuring one game at each school and a Saturday matchup at a neutral site. Each year, the neutral site game has been held at Greenville’s Flour Field, save for 2012, which saw the Tigers defeat the Gamecocks at Joe Riley Field in Charleston. Greenville’s proximity to Clemson has been a bone of contention for many Gamecock fans, despite a large amount of South Carolina alumni and fans in the Greenville area and tickets being a complete 50/50 split. This new four year agreement should appease Gamecock fans, however it may anger some Clemson folks.
In 2019 and 2021 the Tigers and Gamecocks will face off in Greenville as usual. In both those seasons Clemson will host the Friday night game and and South Carolina will host the Sunday game. For the 2020 and 2022 seasons, the neutral site game will he played at Spirit Communications Park- home of the Columbia Fireflies. Just miles from South Carolina’s campus in Columbia’s Bull Street district, Spirit Communications Park was opened in 2016 and drew record crowds in 2017 as former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow began his career as a Minor Leaguer in the New York Mets’ organization by playing for the Single A Fireflies. Last season, the Gamecocks played a midweek game at the stadium against College of Charleston, which saw former Cougar manager Chad Holbrook lead his team to a 9-0 win over his old squad.
While initially this looks like South Carolina is getting two home games against the Tigers in 2020 and 2022, it may not be as bad as it appears. Tickets will still be split 50/50 and there is a strong Clemson contingent in Columbia. Plus Spirit Communications Park is a nice, new venue. It also features a variety of concession stands and stations that serve beer, including some delicious local options. Personally, I think Charleston would’ve been a better spot, if for nothing else than the possibility of Bill Murray shenanigans, but I think this set up should work out well, and if nothing else it will give more Columbia area Tigers a chance to watch their team.