GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The ACC and Newport News-based Atlantic 10 Conference are negotiating a deal that would take the ACC basketball tournament to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2017 and ’18 and create a series of regular-season doubleheaders between the leagues, also at Barclays.
Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel this morning broke the news of the ACC discussing a “multi-year” contract with Barclays, which opened in 2012 to rave reviews and is home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Here are some additional elements to the proposal that several sources have outlined:
The A-10, which is staging its tournament at Barclays this week for the second consecutive season, is contracted to remain in the facility through 2017. But the ACC wants to move into New York ASAP, and the league’s first available date is 2017 – the 2015 ACC tournament is set for its traditional home here in Greensboro, N.C., and Washington, D.C., in 2016.
In exchange for the A-10 exiting Barclays a year earlier, the ACC has offered to play a series of regular-season doubleheaders against the A-10 in the facility. Neutral-site games against ACC teams would be a coup for the A-10, elevating its visibility and, in theory, its teams computer rankings, a critical component of the NCAA tournament selection process.
Thamel reported that A-10 presidents are scheduled to meet in New York today to discuss the ACC proposal. A possible destination for the A-10 in 2017 is Washington, a region in which the league has George Washington, George Mason, VCU and Richmond.
The ACC has never taken its storied basketball tournament north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but the addition of Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and even Notre Dame, with its so-called Subway Alumni in New York, has prompted the league to gaze north. Next football season the ACC will begin sending a team to the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, and last July when Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame officially joined the ACC, the league staged a rollout in Manhattan.
The ACC’s new schools all hail from the Big East Conference, which has staged its basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden since 1983, and the Garden would be the ACC’s preferred New York venue. But the Big East and MSG are contracted through 2026.
ACC coaches such as Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and Miami’s Jim Larranaga have publicly advocated for the conference to move the tournament to New York. Sources said Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski adamantly endorsed New York during the ACC’s spring meetings last year in Florida.
Duke and other ACC teams often play neutral-site games in New York, this season more than ever. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Pitt and Maryland played at Barclays. Boston College, Duke and Notre Dame were at the Garden.
An ACC tournament at Barclays would create fascinating competition with the restructured Big East as the conferences contested simultaneous events in the same city.
There’s also competition with the Big Ten, which raided the ACC for Maryland in a recent expansion that also includes New Jersey-based Rutgers. The Big Ten is talking about taking its basketball tournament to New York, and Swofford may want to beat his former University of North Carolina classmate, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, in staking a claim.
Taking its signature event to New York also would showcase the ACC in the world’s largest media market and allow its schools to cater to a different donor constituency than usually travels to the event in Greensboro. But the shift will be jarring for some traditionalists.
This week marks the 61st ACC tournament, the 50th in North Carolina, the 25th at Greensboro Coliseum. Never has the event been outside the state in consecutive years, and with 2016 set for Washington, North Carolina could well be without the event for at least three years.
"Future tournament sites is not a new topic," Swofford said in a statement Friday afternoon, "as it has been discussed for the last several years and continues to be under discussion. ...
"Our schools will determine where it is held beyond 2016, and while we appreciate all of the interest in the future of this great event, we do not have anything to announce at this time, nor will we during the course of this tournament."
Swofford has been more revealing previously.
“I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t look at New York," he has told me. "It would be pricier. But it’s also the media center of the world and an exciting city to be in, and I suspect a lot of people would enjoy periodically visiting New York City for this quality of basketball tournament.”
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