After adamant lobbying by several athletic directors in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including Maryland's Debbie Yow, the state of North Carolina's stranglehold on the ACC men's basketball tournament finally will be loosened over the next 10 years.
The ACC yesterday released the future sites for the tournament up to 2010. MCI Center in Washington is scheduled to be the host in 2005.
The ACC tournament previously appeared at the Capital Centre, later renamed USAir Arena, in Landover in 1987. The Capital Centre also served as the tournament site in 1976 and '81.
"We vigorously supported the D.C. bid to host the 2005 ACC men's basketball tournament," Yow said in a statement released by the school. "I believe our fans will be delighted that this has been achieved."
Four of the next 10 tournament sites are outside of North Carolina: the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (2001, 2009), MCI Center (2005) and the Ice Palace in Tampa, Fla. (2007).
The other six tournaments will be held at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum (2003, 2004, 2006, 2010) and in Charlotte, presumably at the Charlotte Coliseum (2002, 2008) - last year's site.
"We had outstanding proposals for our men's basketball tournament from each of the cities selected," ACC commissioner John Swofford said. "We're excited that these five cites have an enthusiastic commitment from their community. This 10-year rotation covers the geographic footprint of the conference extremely well."
Geographical equality has not been the conference's strongest attribute over the past 50 years.
Of the 47 ACC tournaments since 1954, only six have occurred outside the Tobacco State. Forty times, one of the four North Carolina teams - North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest or North Carolina State - has been crowned tournament champion.
Two of the six times that the tournament has been held outside of North Carolina, meanwhile, an out-of-state team has also taken the title: Virginia in Landover in 1976 and Georgia Tech in Atlanta in 1985.
The previous time the tournament was held outside of North Carolina was in 1989 at the Omni in Atlanta.
One issue that threatened D.C.'s chances of being named a host city was seating. MCI Center seats 20,674 for Wizards games, while the Charlotte Coliseum holds roughly 23,895. When the tournament is held in D.C., the number of tickets allocated to every ACC school could drop below 2,000 each - compared to the 2,500 that Charlotte is able to grant.
A record 119,475 fans have turned out each of the past two years at the Charlotte Coliseum for the tournament.
It also was announced yesterday that the second ACC-Big Ten Challenge will take place Nov. 28-29.
Maryland is scheduled to play Wisconsin in Milwaukee on Nov. 29. The Badgers advanced last season to the NCAA tournament's Final Four, where they lost to eventual champion and fellow Big Ten school Michigan State.
The Spartans will face North Carolina and Duke will go up against Illinois in rematches from last year's ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The other games are Wake Forest at Michigan, Northwestern at Clemson, Georgia Tech at Iowa, Purdue at Virginia, Penn State at N.C. State and Minnesota at Florida State.
The Terps beat Iowa, 83-65, as the ACC won last year, 5-4.
Future ACC sites
2002 Charlotte, N.C.
2003 Greensboro, N.C.
2004 Greensboro, N.C.
2005 Washington, D.C.
2006 Greensboro, N.C.
2007 Tampa, Fla.
2008 Charlotte, N.C.
2010 Greensboro, N.C.