Last week, the ACC announced it would be relocating all neutral-site championships from the state of North Carolina due to HB2. That post (and the comments below it) dove into a lot of the issues around HB2, so would recommend heading over there for that sort-of civil discourse...
One of the most pressing issues created for the ACC by the move was finding a new home for this December’s ACC Football Championship Game. Typically housed in Charlotte, the game now needs to shift plans on a dime in order to hold a successful championship weekend.
We suggested MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., but there are logistical issues and potential weather factors that prevent it.
Based on a post by the Associated Press today, it would seem the current frontrunners to land the game include Orlando (Camping World Stadium), Washington D.C./Landover, Md. (FedEx Field) and campus sites.
Based on the limited timeframe to plan (two and a half months) and the lack of availability for many venues around the country given the NFL schedule, these are really the only choices left. Orlando has a high school playoff event that weekend, which it could potentially move. FedEx Field is free and clear, however, and is sort of located in the middle of the league’s footprint.
Campus sites, while appealing for the AAC and Conference-USA, and at one time the Pac-12 as well before it moved things to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, could pose some challenges for the conference, despite best intentions. Last-minute travel arrangements to the site of the top team means increased costs for fans. Hotels may not necessarily be available in all 14 cities for that time (though realistically, you can cut that list in half, at the very least). And what if a team with a smaller stadium ends up hosting the game? The ACC loses thousands on ticket sales.
There’s also the issue of what happens if they go with campus sites and the game’s awarded to a team based in North Carolina? It’s not even farfetched to think that the Tar Heels could represent the Coastal in the game. NC State and Duke seem like longshots, and Wake Forest would too, despite its current 3-0 record. But if UNC is in line to be the league’s best team when the regular season wraps up, do you still put the game in Chapel Hill? That would defeat the entire point of moving it away from Charlotte to begin with.
With the clock ticking for the ACC, they’ll have to act soon. My money’s on Orlando, but with the rush to get this done soon, no alternative would surprise me anymore.