SBD/March 18, 2013/Colleges

ACC's Swofford Says Conference Is Discussing Future Tournament Sites Such As N.Y.

Swofford said conference officials have discussed a Saturday tournament final
The ACC men's basketball tournament will be held in Greensboro through '15, but ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the conference's ADs are "in the process of discussing what we do with the tournament in the future." Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville will join the conference in the next two years, and Swofford said, "With our footprint expanded, there may be some opportunities that we haven’t had previously to play the tournament somewhere in our new footprint that would be beneficial to the league, so we’re having those discussions now. But I think it’s fairly safe to say that the future may represent the past a bit looking forward, because the roots of this tournament are so strong here in North Carolina and much of the success that has been built over the years has been here in North Carolina" (“ACC Tournament,” Raycom Sports, 3/16). Swofford added, "The roots and tradition and history of the tournament are [in Greensboro] and in Charlotte more than anywhere else. I don't see our schools walking away from that aspect. We should look at New York. I think we'd be remiss if we didn't look at New York. What that ultimately means, it's just too early to know. There's some interest there, I don't think there's any question about that, from (Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn) and from our standpoint, too." Meanwhile, Swofford said that league officials have discussed whether a Saturday conclusion to the tournament "would allow the NCAA selection committee to better evaluate ACC teams and their seedings." In Virginia, David Teel noted the ACC next year "grows to 15 teams and a five-day tournament." Switching to a Saturday final would "translate to a Tuesday start, which some (many?) prospective ticket-buyers would find untenable." Swofford said, "There are pros and cons in either direction" (DAILYPRESS.com, 3/16).

APPLE OF THEIR EYE? In Raleigh, Luke DeCock wrote as the ACC expands there is "no avoiding a single, pressing question: If, or perhaps when, will the ACC Tournament be played in New York at Madison Square Garden?" The debate is "the collision of the new and old ACC." Fighting to keep the tournament in Greensboro "may be fighting to preserve something that already has been lost, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the fight." Former Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said, "As long as it stays in Greensboro, or in proximity to Greensboro, this tournament will live and flourish. ... Every mile that you get from Greensboro, the challenges increase exponentially." DeCock writes, "An ACC tournament in New York wouldn't be an ACC tournament. That doesn't make the ACC tournament better or worse. It just makes it something different, and it's been something different for a while now" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/16). SPORTING NEWS' David Steele wrote when the ACC "took its giant scissors to the Big East for a second time, this reality became true: It cuts both ways." Steele: "They cut the heart out of the old Big East. But in doing so, they cut the umbilical cord that tethered the conference to the Tar Heel State." If the league is "going to make a footprint, make a footprint." Put the tournament where the "new invitees live and breathe." This is not the "time to act as if the only rightful place for that footprint is Tobacco Road" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 3/16). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said if the tourney is played in N.Y., “Notre Dame, Syracuse, and BC will sell that place out, either in the Garden or Barclays” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/15).

GREENSBORO NOT GOING QUIETLY: In North Carolina, Owen Covington reports deadlines for completing Greensboro Coliseum renovations this year and next in time for the ACC basketball tournaments “certainly has the intent of making basketball fans among the first to enjoy more than $15 million in upgrades to the arena.” Though the arena has been the “most frequent host of the tournament, future years will see Greensboro competing against" MSG and Barclays Center. Greensboro Coliseum Managing Dir Matt Brown said, “The whole goal here is to make a first impression on those new (ACC) teams, and the future ones. That was why it was so critical that we completed those first phase projects before the bids (for future ACC tournaments).” Covington notes the ACC tournament staying a “crown jewel” for the Coliseum is “evident in renovations made since last fall and those on tap for a second phase due to start this summer.” The upgrades “appeal to most coliseum visitors, but the ACC was specifically in mind in creating a carpeted VIP Ovations Lounge with bar service on the lower level concourse and the expansion of the ACC Hall of Champions Board Room.” A player and media entrance was “enclosed and upgraded to offer a more welcoming entry to the facility.” An ESPN/Raycom Sports Center in-arena studio platform “was built, along with technology upgrades to assist media covering events.” Four luxury suites were “added to the arena to accommodate the new teams entering the conference next year.” Brown is “already scoping out space for another suite, anticipating future expansion of the conference” (TRIAD BUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/15 issue).

OTHERS WANT IN: In Atlanta, Ken Sugiura noted Atlanta Sports Council Exec Dir Dan Corso "led a contingent of Philips Arena and Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau officials to Greensboro, primarily to reinforce the city's interest in hosting the ACC tournament in the future." The tournaments for '16-21 are "up for bidding and likely will be awarded in April or May." Atlanta's competition "reportedly includes" Charlotte, Greensboro, Tampa and DC. No arena in N.Y. "submitted a bid, but the league has interest in the area" (AJC.com, 3/16).
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