With the ACC basketball tournament set for Greensboro, N.C., the next three seasons, the conference is weighing venue options for 2016-21, including new destinations such as Miami, Orlando and Pittsburgh.
“We’ve had a great deal of interest,” commissioner John Swofford said Wednesday at the league’s preseason media function. “I think you’d expect that in any circumstances, but particularly with a growing league .. and the fact that now we’ll be in nine contiguous states up and down the Eastern seaboard, and with Notre Dame joining.”
Syracuse and Pittsburgh arrive next year, bringing membership to 14. Notre Dame will be No. 15 in sports other than football as soon as it negotiates an exit from the Big East. The additions will expand the tournament to five days, running Wednesday-Sunday.
ACC athletic directors discussed future tournament sites earlier this month in suburban Boston at their annual fall meetings.
“My guess is in listening to the athletic directors (that) the next eight or 10 years will probably look somewhat similar to the past decade in which we had the tournament in North Carolina as its home base, in Greensboro and Charlotte, and bounced it out periodically to other parts of our footprint,” Swofford said. “We’ve got some attractive opportunities.”
The ACC does not reveal bid cities, but sources have confirmed eight: Greensboro, Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Miami, Tampa and Orlando.
The tournament has never been staged north of the Mason-Dixon Line, so Pittsburgh would be a unique venue and a nod to the conference’s northern tier: Syracuse, Boston College and Pitt.
Madison Square Garden is out of the question. The storied arena and Big East announced Wednesday an extension of their partnership through 2026.
Tampa in 2007 was the ACC tournament’s lone foray into Florida, and reviews were tepid. But Orlando boasts a new NBA arena and the Disney connection, while Miami has the lure of South Beach.
With the building located in a walkable downtown such as Charlotte’s, Orlando is arguably the most fan-friendly of the Florida candidates.
Last year’s tournament was the sixth in Atlanta.
Feel free to weigh in, fans. Where would you like to see the tournament in years the league ventures beyond North Carolina?
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Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including one from Wednesday’s media day.