Sports

ACC headquarters is moving to Charlotte NC from Greensboro


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Football helmets with the ACC logo, signed by league coaches, during the ACC Football Kickoff on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.

rwillett@newsobserver.com

In a move that simply made too much sense not to make, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced Tuesday that it will be moving its headquarters from Greensboro to Charlotte by 2023.

The relocation will be another substantial feather to insert into Queen Charlotte’s crown. It was the right thing to do for the ACC. And it will be a boon for our city, which was already deeply embedded in both ACC history and its modern-day championships, but now will tie itself to the conference even more tightly.

Greensboro’s history with the ACC dates back almost 70 years, when the league was founded in a smoke-filled room inside a Greensboro hotel. But Charlotte is a thriving city and has access to a major hub airport — one of the key considerations for a league that now boasts members in Florida, Indiana, New York and Massachusetts.

“Today is a transformational day for the ACC and for our 15 world class institutions. We truly appreciate the state of North Carolina for its dedication to keeping the conference headquarters in the state, and the Charlotte leadership for their commitment and ongoing partnership,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement Tuesday. “After a comprehensive, inclusive and deliberate process, the Board decided that Charlotte — an amazing and vibrant community — not only meets, but exceeds, the needs of the ACC…. The decision to relocate from Greensboro was a difficult one, and the entire city and its first-class representatives will always hold an incredibly special place in the history and legacy of the ACC.”

Fortunately, the ACC didn’t move to Orlando. That was another possibility, and one that would have reeked of chasing the money without regard for the league’s deep history in N.C.

Will the average sports fan notice an immediate difference in their consumption of ACC products? Likely not.

The ACC football championship was already being played in Charlotte every year, and that won’t change. The ACC men’s basketball tournament has already been awarded to Greensboro in 2023 and to Washington D.C. in 2024, and that won’t change, either.

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Duke’s Javin DeLaurier (12) leads the team onto the court before Duke’s game against UNC in the semifinals of the 2019 ACC Tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, March 15, 2019. Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

Undoubtedly the ACC will establish an opulent headquarters in uptown Charlotte, where it will be part of the Legacy Union’s Bank of America Tower and employ about 50 people, The league plans to spend about $5 million to build out its new headquarters, which will include a state-of-the-art production studio. But most fans won’t have any opportunity to visit that headquarters, either.

Still, you have to figure that Charlotte will get more turns at-bat now for the ACC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as some of the other championships that the conference runs every year.

Charlotte has already hosted the men’s basketball tournament 13 times in its history, most recently in 2019. It also hosted the ACC’s baseball championship at Truist Field in uptown Charlotte in 2021 and 2022, and has sent a team to the Duke’s Mayo bowl game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte for the past 20 years.

The symbolism here is important. Charlotte has long been the ideal place for centralized ACC events. The conference has recognized that by placing both its football and basketball preseason gatherings in Charlotte, as well as the ACC football title game in 11 of the past 12 years (that game will remain in Charlotte through at least 2030). ESPN, the ACC’s media partner, also has a substantial studio presence in Charlotte.

So the writing was on the wall for this one to some extent. But Charlotte officials and N.C. officials still needed to make it happen. And they did so, keeping the ACC in the state of North Carolina.

The move was made possible in part after the retirement of former ACC commissioner John Swofford, who served in that role for 24 years and retired in early 2021. New commissioner Jim Phillips decided early on — in conjunction with the 15 ACC schools’ presidents and chancellors — to evaluate whether Greensboro was the correct home for the ACC going forward. That led to the process that lasted more than a year and culminated in Tuesday’s announcement.

This story was originally published September 20, 2022 12:02 PM.

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Sports columnist Scott Fowler has written for The Charlotte Observer since 1994. He has authored or co-authored eight books, including four about the Carolina Panthers. Fowler has earned 18 national APSE writing awards and hosted The Observer’s podcast “Carruth,” which Sports Illustrated named 2018’s “Podcast of the Year.” His new podcast and online series is called “Sports Legends of the Carolinas” and features 1-on-1 interviews with NC and SC sports icons.
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