Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Could ACC sour on Florida sites?

At halftime of the 2007 ACC championship game on Dec. 1 in Jacksonville, Fla., a reporter from Virginia grilled ACC commissioner John Swofford about future conference title games.

Incredulous at the low turnout for Boston College and Virginia Tech in Jacksonville, the reporter wanted to know why the ACC would consider any Florida site. He was presuming Charlotte’s spot at the geographical center of the conference gave the ACC its best chance at large crowds for future ACC championship games.

The reporter’s assumptions may be correct, but Swofford said that day that Tampa provided a good financial guarantee, a good plan for local sales and boasted a larger population with more direct flights to and from the area than Jacksonville.

Those factors, combined with the Association for Career and Technical Education’s convention scheduled for 2008 in Charlotte on the same date as the championship game, gave Tampa an opening.

Wednesday, the ACC announced that Tampa will get the 2008 and 2009 games, with Charlotte playing host in 2010 and 2011. Publicly, Charlotte officials are thrilled.

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tim Newman wished Tampa well in 2008 and 2009 and said waiting until 2010 gives Charlotte a chance to finish building attractions such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Wachovia Cultural Center to entertain fans.

Privately, some who worked hard to get the games to Charlotte are disappointed that Tampa was awarded the 2008 and 2009 games. They believe Charlotte is simply the most logical place to hold the game.

But having the game go to Tampa first could have some benefits for Charlotte’s long-term hopes for the game. If Tampa struggles with attendance as Jacksonville did in 2006 and 2007, ACC officials could sour on Florida sites.

A strong showing by Charlotte in 2010 and 2011 could then help Charlotte hold off an expected strong challenge from Orlando.

The home of Disney World and Mickey Mouse is undergoing extensive stadium renovations that prevented it from bidding for the 2008-11 games, but could be a major player next time around.
There’s just one problem for any city that plans to play host to this game. The ACC’s basketball-first culture will make it difficult to sell out stadiums on short notice if Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami and/or Wake Forest are involved.

Regardless of where the game is held, ACC football has a lot of growing to do before it approaches the status of the SEC championship game, held annually in Atlanta to crowds of more than 70,000.

– Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

The reason the SEC has has success in ATL is b/c it is close enough to drive for most of the conference and there are large alumni bases for all of the SEC schools in the city. Note that this is not like a bowl game where folks want to take off work and stay for 3 or 4 days. Friday evening or Sat AM, go to the game, head home on Sunday. ACC is making a big mistake leaving this in FL for 2 more years.

MR. KNOW IT ALL said...

Ken Tysiac
Looks to me like you have a a lot of growing up to do. You don"t know
bull$..t about the ACC OR any SEC
Teams Players from any schools.
Ken Tysiac has a long way to go
before you are a good Journalist.