ACC loves NYC: Expect tournament to be back in Brooklyn
NEW YORK (AP) — The Atlantic Coast Conference is declaring its two-year run in Brooklyn a success and expects to make New York City a regular destination for the league’s men’s basketball tournament.
“I think it’s important for us as a league to continue to be here, embrace our current footprint as a 15-member league,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford told the AP this week.
The ACC Tournament semifinals will be played Friday night at Barclays Center, the five-and-a-half-year-old home of the NBA’s Nets. For the second straight year the biggest rivalry in college basketball will be on display: No. 12 North Carolina faces No. 5 Duke in the nightcap after No. 1 Virginia faces No. 19 Clemson.
The tournament hasn’t been held in North Carolina since 2015, its longest stretch away from the state where the ACC was founded in 1953. But the tournament returns to its traditional home the next two years, first in Charlotte in 2019 and then to its most frequent site in Greensboro in 2020.
Swofford said ACC leaders will meet in the spring, with a goal of locking up at least two or three more future sites for the tournament.
The ACC Tournament has made periodic stops in Atlanta and Washington, and even a one-off in Tampa, Florida in 2007. Trips to those and other sites could continue, but North Carolina and New York will be regulars in the ACC Tournament rotation, Swofford said.
“Understand that (New York) is an important part of that footprint. It being the media capital of the world and 8 million people here, and a large number of alums from each of our institutions and a lot of players that are potential recruits in our league,” Swofford said. “And it’s given us some business opportunities and connections we might well not have had.”
Continuing its relationship with Barclays appears to be slam dunk. The arena hosts the Atlantic 10 Tournament the next three seasons. The ACC, A-10 and Barclays struck a deal to bring the ACC to Brooklyn in the first place. The A-10 had the arena booked, but agreed in 2014 to move for two years in exchange for nonconference games against ACC schools at Barclays and a one-year extension of its contract to hold the Atlantic 10 Tournament there.
Barclays is also set to host the NCAA Tournament East Regional in 2021. Barclays was the site of first- and second-round NCAA games in 2016. This season Barclays hosted 15 regular-season college basketball games, including the NIT Season Tip-off with Virginia of the ACC.
“College basketball truly resonates in the borough of Brooklyn, and I think the relationship with the ACC in some respects validated us as a destination for college basketball,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said.
The four Wednesday and Thursday ACC Tournament sessions at Barclays sold out — 17,732 capacity — last year and this week, according to Barclays officials. The semifinals and final last year drew 18,109, and the atmosphere in the building was electric thanks to marquee matchups of Duke-North Carolina in the semifinals and Duke-Notre Dame in the championship game.
Barclays officials expect similar attendance this weekend.
Yormark said preliminary discussions have already begun with the ACC about returning to Barclays.
“They’ll be back,” Yormark said. “We’ll be part of the rotation. Commissioner Swofford and I have developed a real nice relationship. We know what he needs. We know what the teams need. We know what the coaches need. We’re delivering that and more. I know he loves the market place.”
And Barclays will be the only realistic option in New York City for a while. The Big East has an agreement to hold its conference tournament at Madison Square Garden through the 2026 season and no apparent desire to change that.
“The Big East has a great history there and we respect that, but we’re building some history here in this building, and it’s a great building,” Swofford said.
The Big Ten played its tournament at MSG last week, a week earlier than usual. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the conference will not do that again and Swofford said the ACC does not want to change its dates.
Could the Big Ten come to Barclays? Yormark said discussions with Big Ten schools have centered on playing regular-season games at the arena, but he loved the idea of the ACC, Big Ten and Atlantic 10 rotating through Barclays.
“The ACC has been our partner. If for some reason the ACC said we’re not coming back I would look to work with the Big Ten, but as far as I’m concerned if the ACC wants to come back and take this premier week, they’re going to have it,” Yormark said, adding: “We will have a conference tournament every year at Barclays Center.”
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