Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Why the ACC should host the ACCCG at one team’s home field


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ACC Championship Attendance

A quick prologue: For those of you who are not familiar, I’m Jon. This is my 2nd stint here at ScalpEm and look forward to blogging about the Noles in the future.I wrote about this at Tomahawk Nation, but that was more off the top of my head. That sparked quite a conversation, with several criticism of the idea brought up. I wanted to make a more thought out article that hammered out a few issues and hopefully show how this would be in the ACC’s best interests.

That picture defines the public perception of the ACC Championship game. After all of the post expansion bluster about becoming the top football conference in America, the ACC Championship game hasn’t been defined as a defact national semifinal or rematches between Florida State and Miami; but rather a game that not even the participating school’s fan bases seem to care about.

The current solution has been to move the game out of Florida and into Charlotte.  At least initially, that move has seemingly paid off. The game had it’s highest attendance ever (by 100 tickets) and managed to generate some national interest. However, I would counter that other factors played into the ACC’s favor. Mainly, getting two of the three fan bases that care about football together.

The ACC isn’t the SEC, particularly in the fan base department. The current bowl tie ins prove as much. Clemson, FSU, and Virginia Tech are the only three schools that have the kind of traveling fan bases needed to make a neutral site championship game work. Look at what happened the years that Wake and Boston College were involved. It’s no accident the only other time the ACC Championship game had good attendance was the first game, played between FSU and Va Tech.

So then, what can be done about this? The PAC-12 made the bold move of announcing that it’s championship games will be played at one school’s home field for the foreseeable future.

The PAC-12 and the ACC have a lot in common. Both are conferences which span hundreds of miles of coastline and are populated with a relatively football apathetic fan base.  In addition, the PAC-12 had an additional hurdle of finding a quality “neutral” site.  The only sites that would provide good weather or a dome in their territory are in Glendale, Arizona or Los Angeles.   A Washington State-Utah championship game played in Arizona would have been an embarrassment worse than anything the ACC has faced.

Instead of facing that, the PAC-12 guaranteed a sellout crowd by having the game hosted by the team with the best conference record (or highest BCS standing in the event of a tie). While some have called it small time, it solves any worries about attendance and makes the regular season that much more meaningful.  In years when no team is in the national title hunt, the right to host the championship game is a powerful motivator.

The ACC could avoid another potential disaster by doing the same thing. It’s clear by now that unless you have FSU/Clemson vs VT, then the championship game is going to be populated with lots of empty seats. Even if you get a favorable match up, at some point it’s going to become old news to those schools. Just look at VT’s current Orange Bowl ticket sales, or the amount of people they brought to Tampa in 2008. And God help the ACC if it gets it’s wish of Miami becoming relevant again and bringing all of their orange seats with them.

Several criticisms have come up to the idea of hosting the game on campus.

1. Logistics

Duke and Miami are the only two teams in the ACC that share their stadium. It wouldn’t be too much to ask that those dates be held open on that weekend. In addition, NFL teams and fan bases get stadiums sold out on Wild Card weekend with just as much notice. They also don’t have the luxury of a student section.

2. Stadium size

I would set a minimum stadium size as another standard for hosting the ACC Championship game. I believe a capacity of 50,000 seats would be a fair minimum standard. Per Wikipedia, the only schools that wouldn’t meet that currently are Boston College, Duke, and Wake Forest. In the event of any of those schools making the ACCCG, the other division winner would then host the title game.

3. Home Field advantage

It has been brought up that the title game should be decided on an even playing field. To help make up for that, I would expand the Visitors sections for that game. The amount of tickets given to the visiting schools would be dependent on the size of the host stadium.

Maryland, NC State, and Georgia Tech all have stadiums with a capacity lower than 60,000.  For those, the visiting team would receive 12,000 tickets.

North Carolina, Virginia, and Va Tech have stadium capacities between 60 and 67,000. Visiting teams would receive 16,000 tickets.

Florida State, Clemson, and Miami have stadium capacities between 75 and 83,000. Visiting teams would receive 20,000 tickets.

The obvious question is what happens if the visiting team can’t fill it’s quota. I’m not sure what you would do. The best I can think of is that for the stadiums with higher visiting sections, set the mark initially at 12,000 and then open up further sections as demand dictates.


13 Responses to “Why the ACC should host the ACCCG at one team’s home field”
  1. Great article.
    I think there are two ways to approach this. 1) Bring the fans to football and bank on the ACC name – as the ACC is doing with the Charlotte thing. The ACC has always been hubbed in the Carolinas. Charlotte is about as central as you are going to get and rabid ACC fans are there. That said, they are predominantly basketball fans.
    2) Bring football to the fans – as you suggest. Here they are selling the team loyalty rather than the conference loyalty.
    3) Neutral site out of the regional area is not an option.
    I don’t know which one is best. You bring up some really good points and I think if the ACC can’t get a following of fans who flock to Charlotte, and Charlotte gains relevancy as The Place for the ACC Championship, then you have to look at your option.
    But if they are committed to selling Charlotte as the key locale of the ACC brand, then they need to sell it better. Because they aren’t even getting the fan bases from the teams in the game.

    • NoleCCNo Gravatar says:

      I think your point about Charlotte will come to a head over the next few years Jordi. It all depends on who is playing in the game. Jacksonville and Tampa suffered from less than desirable matchups generally. Jacksonville had the double problem of potentially having to take the loser of the ACCCG and a fan base that didn’t want to go to Jacksonville twice in a row.

  2. NoleCCNo Gravatar says:

    I flip flop on this particular idea a lot. Like I said in response to Jordi, I feel like Jax and Tampa suffered from a lot of unfavorable matchups. Not that the schools that played the games didn’t deserve to be there or weren’t good teams, but smaller football fan bases and teams that aren’t nationally relevant for the BCS Championship didn’t help. Had the game been around with the dominating teams at FSU and Miami over the years, attendance and ratings wouldn’t be an issue.

    It’s really amusing to me that I WOULD have been able to attend if the game had been in Jacksonville this year, but Charlotte ruled it out for me.

  3. But see that’s the thing. A portion of people go to the ACC Basketball Championship regardless of who is playing. It could be NC-Duke, it could be Maryland-Duke, it could be NC State-FSU, but they know they are going to get good quality ACC basketball. “ACC” means something there. They could put the game in Bejing and it would still draw ACC basketball fans.
    In football, not so much. So they have to sell the next level thing: the teams playing. If that fails, then you sell a particular player.
    I think the market is so saturated now that even if you put it in Charlotte and had 5 straight great games – different teams and all classics, they still might not get the hype and the buzz they are looking for. The ACC doesn’t have the prestige in football.

    • NoleCCNo Gravatar says:

      True and I don’t know how to change that. ESPN and CBS are going to market the teams they paid the big bucks for and they’re all in the SEC.

      • Jon LoescheNo Gravatar says:

        Well, FSU has still brought in ratings for ESPN. Even during the dark times FSU brought in some of ESPN’s highest ratings ever for CFB, Gameday after the Miami win was practically a FSU infomercial.

        • NoleCCNo Gravatar says:

          Right. So basically, unless FSU plays in the game… the ACCCG is again the red headed step child. Even this year, FSU wasn’t expected to win and I think the game suffered a bit because of that.

  4. Jon LoescheNo Gravatar says:

    Something else that’s been brought up about Charlotte that I didn’t touch on was the preseason hype for UNC. Before Agent-gate broke out, they were the preseason favorites to win the ACC. Do you guys feel that helped out the ticket sales this year? And if so, with UNC going to be crippled by sanctions and NC State picked to finished 2nd or 3rd in the Atlantic, do you think the locals will be as willing to get tickets?

  5. OwlguinNo Gravatar says:

    I get the sense that while this may come to fruition, it won’t be real soon. The game in Charlotte was pretty successful this year and with FSU and VA Tech remaining the two big players in the league, it will probably be similar next year. I like the idea of the team with the highest BCS ranking or league record (or some combination) hosting the game though, and I think at least 25% of the host team tickets should be alloted to the visitor fans. If they do not sell their allotment, then the tickets can revert to the host team.

    • Jon LoescheNo Gravatar says:

      Let’s see how ticket sales do next year. UNC won’t have nearly the preseason hype and unless FSU falters, NC State won’t get in. Miami will have it’s last good shot for awhile to make it next year. If that happens, then the kind of attendance that killed Jax and Tampa will happen in Charlotte.

  6. richardNo Gravatar says:

    Rather than just the team with the best record/rankings, why not let the game alternate between divisions? That way, each division will have a fair chance to represent and not just one or two teams. It will give a little more incentive for the teams in a particular division in their year. Just a suggestion.

    • Jon LoescheNo Gravatar says:

      That sounds all well and good, but let’s say FSU beats Miami, goes 8-0 in ACC play, and wins the Atlantic. Miami then goes 6-2 in ACC play and wins the Coastal. But since it’s the Coastal’s turn to host, FSU will still have to play for the title in Miami.