With the news that the ACC would be relocating all neutral-site championships out of the state of North Carolina (which also begs the question of what’s really “neutral” if there were this many in N.C.), the conference needs to find a new site for its football title game on very short notice.
Some have suggested the campus site of the highest-ranked College Football Playoff contender, which has appeal — unless it ends up sending the game back to North Carolina anyway (which could still happen with four in-state teams).
The Washington Post tossed around several different stadium ideas around the league’s footprint, including Orlando, Washington/Landover and Miami. There was also consideration given to more “out of the box” alternatives such as Columbia, S.C. (home of South Carolina); South Bend, Ind.; and Yankee Stadium.
That last one has some legs, but football games at baseball stadiums are usually terrible. The New York-centric thinking, however, combined with the upcoming ACC Tournament at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, does yield another possibility:
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Home of the New York Giants and Jets, the league’s already familiar with the venue since Syracuse will play Notre Dame there this October, for the second time in three years. And, wouldn’t you know it... neither team is playing in the stadium that Saturday or Sunday! The Giants are away at the Steelers that Sunday, while the Jets will host the Colts that Monday night.
There are pitfalls, clearly. The weather will be likely be cold. It could even snow. And the nearest fan bases (Syracuse and Boston College) are unlikely to have their teams participating in the game.
BUT the venue is used to quick turnarounds (they do it for the Giants and Jets all the time), there are direct flights from New York City and Newark to pretty much every ACC outpost, and it would provide an atmosphere for the ACC Championship. While everyone else plays at regional-ish fields, the ACC would put its best under the bright lights of the New York media. This should sound familiar to Syracuse fans and the various other former Big East teams now in the ACC. It’s the same model their former conference used to rise to amazing basketball success in the 1980s.
Moving to MetLife doesn’t need to be an every-year thing (heaven forbid it leaves North Carolina permanently!). But exposing the game to a region that’s still a ripe battleground for college football ownership and supremacy (one of the easiest ways to get into a pointless college football argument is to mention New York City to a Big Ten fan) is one that makes far too much sense. So much sense, actually, that the league will probably avoid the alternative at all costs.
But hopefully it doesn’t.
It’s a conversation for another day, but perhaps this confluence of events (moving postseasons out of N.C., the ACC tourney in Brooklyn, the start of the ACC Network) may finally progress the league past its very antiquated roots in Greensboro. That doesn’t mean abandoning the league’s home. But it could find alternatives that finally bring the league to the doorstep of the various markets within its borders.
(And in the meantime... maybe the state of North Carolina gets around to tossing out HB2? Let’s do that.)