It was reported last week during the ACC’s 61st Annual Men’s Basketball Tournament that the league is finalizing a deal with the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY, to move the event there for multiple seasons starting in 2017.
A month ago I wouldn’t have understood the impact of the announcement, but having covered my first ACC tournament this past week in Greensboro, having the games moved to Brooklyn for multiple years means the conference with NC roots will be breaking a 60-year trend.
Since 1954 the ACC tournament has only been held outside of the state of North Carolina on ten occasions and never on consecutive years. Four of the league’s seven charter members are located in the state of North Carolina and six of seven were located in the Carolina’s. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which has hosted the tournament 23 times, was built with this event in mind. The entire layout of the complex, from the locker rooms, seating capacity, press row, media room and press conference auditorium were constructed with the league’s showcase in mind.
But accessibility for media and players is not what makes having the ACC tournament in Greensboro special. It’s the fans located in nearby Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Winston Salem, and not too distant Clemson, Charlottesville and Atlanta that make this conference second to none. Being able to drive a few hours or less to cheer on your alma mater or favorite team since childhood has made this showcase one of the most fan friendly.
The environment at the Greensboro coliseum was electric every night of the tournament, no matter who was playing. Fans who have been attending for years use this as an annual reunion to gather with classmates and friendly foes for one week during the year. The connections that are made these four to five days are ones that last a lifetime and it’s simply a feeling that can’t be duplicated at any other location.
There’s a reason why the Big East tournament is held at Madison Square Garden…it means something to the fans and alumni of its members. It’s a tradition steeped in memories that can’t be duplicated and it’s the same thing that applies to The Atlantic Coastal Conference.
The ACC tournament may be moving to the Barclay’s but it’s heart will always be in North Carolina.