As the ACC considers contingency plans to move the 2019 and 2020 ACC tournaments out of North Carolina because of House Bill 2, commissioner John Swofford isn’t optimistic that the situation will be resolved before the conference meetings in May.
“I’m not sure what the best way to put it is,” Swofford said Tuesday. “I’m encouraged they’re continuing to talk about a compromise that might could be productive and a bipartisan one at that. I hope that will happen. I think everybody in our league hopes that will happen.”
But time is running out. It’s relatively easy to move a football championship game – all it takes is a stadium with an open date and a hotel or two. A basketball tournament is a weeklong event that requires more than a dozen hotels at a time when desirable arenas are booked years in advance. If the ACC can’t play in Charlotte in 2019 or Greensboro in 2020, there isn’t a ton of time to rearrange things. (Look what happened this year with the women’s tournament, which ended up at Coastal Carolina.)
The ACC could potentially go to Orlando, Tampa or Atlanta in 2019 and Washington in 2020, but those conversations need to happen now – and are happening now.
“We’ve done some groundwork on it,” Swofford said. “We would be remiss if we didn’t. This tournament takes up a week at a venue. Venues get booked. The longer we would wait the fewer places we would have available to us. Just from a practical standpoint, we don’t have any choice right now but to lay some groundwork and have some discussions and begin developing options for us for those two years if it becomes necessary. Hopefully, it won’t become necessary, but we don’t know that right now.”
The 2020 tournament scheduled for Greensboro is particularly meaningful for Swofford, 68, whose contract expires after that season. Being forced to move that tournament away from the state where he was born and the city where he lives would be excruciating for Swofford.
“We wish it weren’t even part of the conversation or necessary to have the conversation, but it is what it is,” Swofford said. “Our job is to do what’s necessary and be prepared to move this signature event if it is necessary to do so, while hoping that it won’t be.”
Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, firstname.lastname@example.org, @LukeDeCock