Why the ACC should host the ACCCG at one team’s home field
Posted by Jon Loesche
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.
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.