The ACC has followed the footsteps of the NCAA and moved its December football conference championship from Charlotte, N.C., to a currently unspecified location. The move is the result of a discriminatory North Carolina law, which had already cost the state several other prominent sporting events.
On Wednesday, shortly after the ACC’s announcement, we learned via ESPN’s Brett McMurphy that there was already a favorite city for the relocation: Orlando.
Let’s take a look at why Orlando would be the perfect new location.
Wait, why are they moving the ACCCG from Charlotte again?
In short, the state passed a law that discriminates against transgender and LGBTQ people. In March, the state of North Carolina’s legislature passed House Bill 2, the law that keeps it legal for workplaces and public accommodations to discriminate against LGBTQ people in these settings. It also requires transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on the gender listed on their birth certificates, even if it doesn’t represent their current gender identity.
Part of the ACC’s statement:
As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values.
ACC commissioner John Swofford and admins from multiple ACC schools have also condemned the law.
So, have other sporting events moved from North Carolina?
Monday, the NCAA announced it was moving all collegiate championships that had been awarded to the state for the 2016-2017 academic year. Football wasn’t included, in part because the NCAA has little to do with FBS postseason events.
The NCAA explained its decision in a release and listed the seven events that will relocate, including parts of four Division I championships. Sports that were directly affected include baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, and tennis.
OK. But why move it to Orlando?
The two Florida cities that used to host this championship game — Jacksonville and Tampa — both have NFL teams. The Jaguars have a home game against the Denver Broncos on the Sunday after the ACC Championship, Dec. 4, so Jacksonville is likely out. The Buccaneers are away that weekend, at least.
Orlando’s Camping World Stadium (more commonly known as the Citrus Bowl, to Floridians) has been a friend of the ACC for years. The Russell Athletic Bowl has been in Orlando since 2001. The game has included an ACC team each year since 1995.
This year, the inaugural Camping World Kickoff Classic featured the ACC’s Florida State in a comeback win over Ole Miss, with a Seminole-heavy crowd. The game will continue to host ACC teams, with Alabama-Louisville in 2018 and Florida-Miami in 2019.
It doesn’t hurt that Orlando has warm weather, popular theme parks, and nearby beaches that make the games more attractive to fans experiencing winter conditions elsewhere in ACC country. It makes sense for fans to want to travel to a place like Orlando, which has a lot of other things to do.
Also, since it seems likely at least one division champion will be from the South — Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville are the conference’s highest-ranked teams, though all are in the same division — having a game in Central Florida could go over more smoothly than a game in a colder area.
Won’t Camping World Stadium have something going on around the date of the ACC Championship?
Currently, the Florida High School Sports Association’s football state title games are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3. There are two games each day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
An FHSAA spokesperson provided a statement to SB Nation regarding a potential move:
The Florida High School Athletic Association has a contract with the Central Florida Sports Commission for the first two weekends in December to host the FHSAA High School Football State Championships. Moving the game to accommodate the ACC Championship would require a written agreement by both the CFSC and the FHSAA. As of Wednesday night, we have yet to be contacted by them regarding any changes to that contract.
My guess would be that the high school games could be moved to the weekend of the Dec. 10, or they could try and fit both games in on Thursday and Friday, but that would be a quick turnaround.
What about other locations or NFL stadiums?
Of course, there are some other NFL stadium options that could still cater to ACC fans geographically. FedEx Field in Landover, Md. could be available, due to Washington being on the road at Arizona. But M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. is booked for a Ravens home game that weekend. Most of the other NFL stadium locations (Heinz Field, Lincoln Financial Field, etc.) in the ACC’s footprint are outdoor stadiums farther North.
Atlanta likely wouldn’t work, since the SEC Championship is scheduled for the Georgia Dome on the same day.
Weather-wise, it makes to have an outdoor title game played down South in a typically sunny place like Florida. That could make Miami’s remodeled Hard Rock Stadium an interesting option, but Miami is pretty far away from all but a couple ACC schools.