Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Swofford: Charlotte feels like home for ACC title game

RALEIGH – ACC commissioner John Swofford today called last season’s ACC football championship game a “huge success,” and added, “I think we’ve probably found a home in Charlotte.”

“It’s hard to say that after one year because we want to see a progression of successes before you call a place a home,’’ Swofford said while speaking to the Raleigh Sports Club. “But the fact that Charlotte is within 300 miles of eight of our schools is a real plus, because it enhances the fact that you’re going to have at least one fan base that can drive in and out to the game. And Charlotte sold a little over 30,000 tickets before we knew which teams were going to be in the game. That’s not quite where we want or need for it to be, but it’s a great start.”

Charlotte will host the league’s championship game after next season as well, which ends a two-year contract. “We’ll make a decision probably right after that game, as to whether it will stay there or we’ll do something different,’’ he said.

But so far, the prospects look good for keeping it there, after the first ACC football championship games were played in Florida.

“The way I look at is, you step back and look at the worst-case scenario,’’ Swofford said. “And by worst-case, I mean, what match-up is the toughest on the market, and how would you do in those circumstances? … The key to really finding a home is the answer to the question – assuming everything else is in place, and in Charlotte it certainly is, the stadium, the hotels, the whole atmosphere -- how many tickets do you sell locally, before the teams are announced? Because that really sets the base. And the higher that can be, the better. And 30,000 the first year is pretty good. We would like for it to be more, and I think it will be – particularly if we stay there a few years.”

-- Robbi Pickeral