SBD/26/Collegiate Sports

ACC TOURNEY VENTURES OFF TOBACCO ROAD, TO HEAD OUT OF NC

          The state of NC is losing its "near-monopoly" on
     hosting the ACC men's basketball tournament after faculty
     representatives from the conference's nine member schools
     awarded the event to new sites in Atlanta, Washington, DC
     and Tampa, according to Whitmire & Doyel in a front-page
     report in the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  Between 2005 and 2010,
     the tournament will visit Greensboro (Greensboro Coliseum)
     twice and DC (MCI Center), Tampa (Ice Palace), Charlotte and
     Atlanta (Georgia Dome) once each.  The new locations
     represent a "huge break from tradition," as the last 11 ACC
     tournaments -- and 41 of the last 47 -- have been held in
     NC.  ACC Commissioner John Swofford said that the
     conference's intent was to "extend" its reach: "We wanted to
     ... maintain our base in [NC]. ... Also we felt it was
     important for the league's future to give the tournament an
     opportunity to spread its tentacles throughout the
     geographic footprint of the league."  But Charlotte Mayor
     Pat McCrory called the ACC's decision to venture outside the
     state a "mistake" and said, "There's very little loyalty." 
     Whitmire & Doyel noted that the "biggest question mark" of
     the new locations is Tampa, which is a city "without a
     basketball tradition that is a five-hour drive from" FL
     State Univ., the nearest ACC school (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER,
     6/24).  Also in Charlotte, Scott Fowler wrote that the ACC
     awarded its 2005-2010 tournaments "with an eye toward
     demographics rather than tradition."  Fowler called it a
     "travesty" that the event will soon be held outside NC "at
     least" 50-60% of the time (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/24).  In
     Raleigh, A. Sherrod Blakely wrote that the conference "is
     trying to raise its profile" in markets such as FL. 
     Blakely: "That state, with its massive television audience,
     is considered a key market for the ACC" (Raleigh NEWS &
     OBSERVER, 6/24).   In Tampa, Martin Fennelly: "The ACC
     tournament in Florida? To purists, it's like putting the
     Hope Diamond in a pawn shop window.  What's next: Dean Smith
     judges a bikini contest?" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/24).

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