CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference
championship game is moving after drawing smaller crowds in
Jacksonville, Fla., than the league had hoped.
A panel of league athletic directors and faculty athletics
representatives voted unanimously Wednesday to move the title game
to Tampa, Fla. in 2008 and 2009 and to Charlotte in 2010 and 2011.
"Both Tampa Bay and Charlotte are tremendous destinations in
terms of their football venue, community support and partnership
with the Atlantic Coast Conference," commissioner John Swofford
Most importantly, the league hopes both cities will bring more
fans. Since the league expanded to 12 schools in 2005 and became
eligible to hold a title game, the game has been played in front of
The ACC has also been hampered by teams without major followings
reaching the title game. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Boston
College have played in the game in the past two seasons. BC sold
only 3,500 tickets for this year's game.
"For the first three years we had one superb year attendance
wise in the inaugural game and then the next two were not what we
would have hoped," Swofford said. "And what we're after is simply
to find the best mix, and I think it does take a mix of local sales
with the sales from the participating schools."
The league hopes the new sites will be better attractions. Tampa
provides warm weather and plenty of area activities, but it's a
long trip for many schools' fans. Charlotte is a more central
location, but is prone to cold weather on the first Saturday in
Tampa was picked to host the first two-year block at least
partially because of a citywide convention in Charlotte in 2008
that limited the availability of hotel rooms and event areas. Each
city requested to host the game in consecutive years.
"The ACC is coming to a football community that is poised and
passionate about taking the championship to the next level," said
Jeff Adams, chairman of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission. "We're
ready for the challenge."
Charlotte's effort included major help from local businessman
Johnny Harris, who helped make the Wachovia Championship into one
of the premier non-major events on the PGA Tour.
Harris said he plans to study the SEC's title game success in
Atlanta, which regularly sells out.
"I think the best parallel is to look at what the SEC did,"
Harris said. "They're the one we want to emulate."
Tim Newman, chief executive of the Charlotte Regional Visitors
Authority, said he expects the economic impact for the game to be
$20 million, similar to Meineke Bowl. The bowl also is held in
December and its schedule isn't expected to change with the arrival
of the ACC title game.
Harris said he hopes the game will find a permanent home in
Charlotte after 2011.
"We love Jacksonville. We love the people. We love Tampa. We're
excited for them," Harris said. "But the fact of the matter is
we're going to make this the best place for the ACC championship