DAVID THEEL Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Atlantic Coast Conference office is moving to Charlotte, keeping the league’s roots in North Carolina but leaving its home city behind.
ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips informed Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan of the decision Tuesday morning. She said the conference’s university presidents and chancellors met virtually Tuesday and approved the move.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Vaughan said. “But we are not surprised. I also feel we put together a great package, which is one of the reasons it took them 14 months to make a decision…
“I think one of the deciding factors was the location near the center of the airport. We knew we weren’t an airport hub, but we offered them a concierge [private] reactive service”.
Founded 69 years ago in Greensboro and a staple of that community ever since, the league began formally exploring relocation options in July 2021, shortly after Phillips replaced John Swofford as commissioner. The presidents and superintendents of the ACC’s 15 member schools, after extensive deliberations, made the grade and chose Charlotte as the conference’s new home.
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According to ACC bylaws, moving a league office requires the approval of at least 10 schools.
Sources said the 10-member ACC contingent made several visits to possible locations in Charlotte, Greensboro and Orlando, Florida. That group included Phillips, deputy commissioners Brad Hostetter, Ben Torrio and Amy Yakala, Duke president Vincent Price, chancellor Pete Patrick Gallagher, Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham and athletics faculty representatives Peter Brubaker of Wake Forest and Jennifer Strolli of Miami.
Having evolved domestically over the years as the conference’s geographic footprint expanded to include states such as New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Indiana, the ACC’s basing issue took center stage when Swofford, the ACC’s longest-serving commissioner, resigned in February 2021 after 24 years of work. maintenance.
Phillips and other ACC officials detailed the evaluation for the first time, which was coordinated by Texas real estate firm Newmark, during exclusive interviews with the Richmond Times-Dispatch last August.
“Must [conference headquarters] be in line with the media’s capabilities?’ Phillips said then. “Should it align with Fortune 100, 200, 500 companies? Should this be aligned with corporate sponsorship opportunities? Does it have to be combined with a city that can host championships, or does it host championships? …
“That’s what you need to look at. Do we leave the money there? Will we leave any brand? Are we leaving some kind of exposition there?”
Two months later, ACC presented criteria for its next home, including an Eastern Time Zone location, population growth and diversity, and access to a hub airport.
Charlotte fits the profile and then some. The city has hosted 11 of the last 12 ACC football championship games and is the annual home of the conference’s preseason football and basketball meetings. In addition, ESPN, the league’s media partner, has a studio in Charlotte.
As WRAL’s Brian Murphy first reported in June, North Carolina lawmakers budgeted $15 million for the ACC if the league stays in the state for another 15 years and hosts a certain number of conference championships in North Carolina through 2034. That requirement includes at least four men’s basketball tournaments, two in Greensboro, four women’s basketball tournaments, four baseball tournaments and 20 other championships.
The ties to ESPN and its parent company Disney explain why Orlando emerged as an option.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, located in suburban Orlando, hosts many youth, college and professional events, most notably the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Additionally, Orlando is home to many Disney theme parks.
But Charlotte, about 90 miles southwest of Greensboro, is under contract to host the ACC football title game through 2030 and is an occasional popular venue for the conference’s signature men’s basketball tournament.
Greensboro has hosted the men’s tournament 28 times and the women’s 22, both records, along with dozens of league championships in Olympic sports such as swimming and golf. Also, thanks to the city’s ties to the ACC, Greensboro Coliseum hosted 63 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament games from 1974 to 2012, the third-most of any arena during that span.
Since then, the NCAA has assigned 2,023 first-round and second-round games to Greensboro, which is also home to the ACC Hall of Champions Museum.