Life has been treating John Swofford well these days. The commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (the conference of my youth) has celebrated the crowning of a college football national champion (Florida State), a Heisman Trophy winner (Jameis Winston), and a run of exciting college basketball play (both Duke-Syracuse matchups, Duke-UNC and Virginia’s rise).
It’s only fitting that Swofford made another wise college football choice. The ACC announced that it has re-upped with the city of Charlotte to host its conference championship game through 2019.
That was not only a good move – it was a smart move.
Since moving the site to Charlotte, the game has sold out twice in four years and averaged about 70,000 tickets sold. Those figures include last season’s game between Florida State and Duke, which was played before 67,694 fans. Let’s not forget the ongoing renovation of Bank of America Stadium, which Swofford said will promise a better in-game experience for fans.
Let’s not forget that the championship game had trouble drawing when it was in Jacksonville for three years and Tampa for two. Sure it didn’t help that Boston College and Wake Forest were in some of those games, but Virginia Tech played in most of those games and its fans travel well and those games STILL had trouble at the gate. Both Jacksonville and Tampa were piss-poor in making that game attractive.
Now Charlotte is a different story.
Charlotte is itching to be to the ACC as Atlanta is to the SEC – a permanent host of a conference football championship and be defined by that. Charlotte has gone out of its way to promote the event and is looking to improve upon those efforts. It also helps that ESPN has a regional office in Charlotte (cue the conspiracy theorists…).
Charlotte is also in the middle of ACC country. It’s proximity to Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and the NC schools make it easier for fans to travel. And let’s not forget that Florida State fans travel REGARDLESS of the site.
It seems that all that “Ninja Swofford” touched has turned to gold. Too bad those turncoats in Maryland will miss out on all the fun come July 1st.
Now about that ACC Channel…