George Fagan wasn’t planning on attending the Reedy River Rivalry matchup between Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. But when rain pushed the game to Tuesday night, he happily found his way to Fluor Field.
“It’s a beautiful stadium and a great rivalry,” said Fagan. A Columbia resident and USC graduate, he was in Greenville for a church conference and added the game to his plans.
While the Gamecocks defeated Clemson 5-4 to win the second annual matchup, the real champ may have been Greenville. With the game being moved from Saturday to Tuesday, the community entertained baseball fans – and collected tourism dollars – on two different days.
The Reedy River Rivalry is the keystone in a unique three-game, three-city series between national college baseball powers USC and Clemson. The Gamecocks and Tigers met in Columbia on Friday (USC won 6-3) and Clemson on Sunday (the Tigers won 10-5).
A neutral-site matchup was to be played in Greenville on Saturday afternoon but was rescheduled due to rain. Hundreds of fans had already converged on downtown Greenville Saturday in anticipation of the game, however. When the rains came, they (and their wallets) instead wound up at eateries such as Liberty Tap Room, which is just outside Fluor Field.
Some of those same fans were unable to return Tuesday and passed their tickets along to others. Many of the 7,125 on hand Tuesday repeated the process by visiting local restaurants before and/or after the game.
“I ate at Hibachi Grill tonight and loved it,” Fagan said.
“Anytime we can get people from other parts of the state to come to Greenville and see not only the great stadium but all the amenities we have, it’s a plus,” said Greenville County Council member Jim Burns. “They’ll want to come back.”
The game was hosted by the Greenville Drive, a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. They schedule several college games each year in hopes that fans will like what they see and return for Drive games.
“This is our first ballgame here,” said Peggy Roper of Greenville, who was at Fluor Field with her husband, Carlos.
“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” Carlos said.
Jake Cox of Greenville was also at Fluor Field for the first time.
“It’s top notch,” he said, adding that he would “absolutely” be back for a Drive game. “Especially for the price. You can’t beat it.”
The Drive hope to sign Clemson and USC to a long-term deal for the Reedy River Rivalry.
“They won’t find anybody as committed to the event as we are,” said Mike deMaine, Drive general manager.
The action even spilled over to the condominiums that overlook the ballpark’s outfield fence. Tim Morrison hosts business associates and friends at his condo on several game nights each year.
“It’s such a unique venue,” he said, adding that the Gamecock/Tiger rivalry atmosphere created extra energy. “It could very well be the best night of the year.”