Should the ACC ditch Greensboro for NYC?
Posted March 14, 2013
Recently, a pair of the better national college basketball writers each encouraged the ACC to take the 60-year-old conference's beloved basketball tournament to New York City.
The reasons for this were obvious to them as well as all of us in the oxygen-consuming universe. Madison Square Garden is the greatest basketball mecca on planet earth. New York is the greatest city ever to hide public transportation amongst the sewer system. And, in case you hadn't noticed, the people of Greensboro, North Carolina spit seeds for a living.
In fairness, both Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com and Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel bring up a lot of fair points in their assertion that the ACC Tournament should consider a stint in the Big Apple.
The league's northern expansion puts The Garden well within our geographical parameters. The new ACC bares a very strong resemblance to what used to be the Big East, and if the league only took the men's tourney to New York City, they'd sell more tickets in five days than the NFL does in an entire season. Do understand that Notre Dame, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Louisville will pack the house every single time the ball is tossed up on 33rd Street.
But let's stop trying to overplay the hand. Bringing the crown jewel of the 60-year-old league to MSG isn't going to save the ACC from extinction, nor will it solve overcrowding in schools or help Tiger Woods win five more major championships. And honestly, was it really necessary to refer to Greensboro as a Super 8 to Manhattan's Ritz Carlton? Just make the point and move on without sticking your nose in the air.
Should the ACC take the tournament to Madison Square Garden? Should you have a romantic dinner with Mila Kunis? If the opportunity presents itself, you'd be a Greenwich Village idiot if you said 'no,' and John Swofford is no fool. But the last time I checked, the "World's Most Famous Arena" has a college tournament tenant; the Big East Conference. And until further notice, it's a league that still exists and still wants to call the Garden its postseason home.
Should MSG decide that this iteration of the Big East isn't what they want to hitch their yellow cab to and ask for a restructuring of their contract to allow for some early March flexibility, then feel free to work something out. The ACC is set for Greensboro over the next two years and there are rumors of stops in Charlotte and Atlanta as well as a potential return to Florida. But I'm completely down with the notion of an MSG-ACC marriage.
Well, maybe more of a civil union.
I get it, New York is higher than Greensboro on the big city totem pole. It would be a huge statement to the sports world if the ACC Tournament came to the greatest venue in the greatest city with the greatest collection of cultured human beings. But thumbing a collective nose at Greensboro because it isn't Gotham City isn't going to save the conference.
First of all, let's not pretend that the league treats the tournament like some Barnum & Bailey carnival show. It isn't on wheels. Primarily, the tourney is based in North Carolina, either Greensboro or Charlotte, and it's only ventured beyond the borders of the Old Line State 5 times in the last 20 years.
Second, since when did the Big East tournament become the only "event" during Championship Week? The best teams make the best tournaments these days. Of late, the Big East has had the most nationally relevant squads so it would stand to reason that their tournament would resonate.
Or is it simply because right outside the building you can get a Sabrets with spicy brown or the greatest falafel you've ever tasted in your life? Trust me on that.
If all it took to return to glory was to change the mailing address it would be an easy fix, no?
Here's what I would suggest to Swofford and the folks who help make the big decisions at ACC HQ.
- Find out if Madison Square Garden is interested.
- Work out a two or three year agreement. Make it the league's home away from home if you can.
- Enjoy the City – and your new found relevance (just kidding).
But, I've got news for the big city, national folks, Greensboro, North Carolina is, was and always will be the home base for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Sure, Greensboro isn't the world's financial center, the most important media market and it doesn't have a thousand five star restaurants. It's still who this league will always be, at least until the Big Ten Gordon Geckos it and sells off the pieces.
We love ACC Tournament basketball here more than they do in New York City, even if we are an interstate exit motel with free wifi and a continental breakfast. As the saying goes, "we'll leave the light on for you."