Washington, D.C. To Host 2016 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament
GREENSBORO – The 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament will be held at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center, ACC commissioner John Swofford announced Wednesday.
“We are excited to bring the ACC Tournament back to the nation’s capital in 2016,” Swofford said. “Verizon Center is a tremendous showcase for our event, and the Washington, D.C. area is an appealing tourist destination for our member institutions, as well as the alumni and fans of our teams. We received a lot of positive feedback after our 2005 Tournament in Washington, and we look forward to duplicating that success in 2016.”
The 20,000-seat Verizon Center previously hosted the 2005 ACC Tournament. The Washington metropolitan area also welcomed the ACC in 1976, 1981 and 1987, when the tournament was held at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md. The 14-game 2016 tournament will open Wednesday, March 9 and continue through Sunday, March 13.
“Verizon Center is thrilled to once again host the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Washington D.C.,” said David Touhey, Verizon Center SVP & General Manager. “The nation’s capital serves as the perfect site for the championship tournament of such a prestigious conference. We thank the ACC for selecting us and look forward to hosting another successful tournament in March 2016.”
Located in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., Verizon Center serves as home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the NCAA’s Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team.
The arena has hosted a multitude of high-profile events in its history, ranging from the 1998 Stanley Cup Final to the NBA (2001) and WNBA (2002, 2007) All-Star games to the 2003 World Figure Skating Championship, the 2005 ACC Tournament, the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament (1998, 2002, 2008) as well as the second and third rounds (2011), the Washington Regional Round (2006, 2013) and the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four men’s hockey championship.
Verizon Center also hosts a variety of concerts and family shows ranging from all-time greats to current-day chart-topping artists. In the 15 year history of the arena some of the artists who have mastered the stage include: U2, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Coldplay, The Three Tenors, Barbra Streisand, Bon Jovi, Prince, Beyonce, the Dalai Lama, Tina Turner, Keith Urban, Disney on Ice and WWE.
Amenities within the arena include 106 luxury suites, a high-definition center-hung scoreboard, an indoor basketball practice facility and 10 dressing rooms. The arena offers a variety of concession stands and restaurants, including kosher, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
The ACC Tournament has been held in seven different cities and 11 venues since the inaugural event in March of 1954. The Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum is set to serve as host in 2014 and 2015.
ACC Excitement Runs High On Franklin Street
CHAPEL HILL- Downtown Partnership Executive Director Meg McGurk says the energy level is high on Franklin Street during the ACC tournament.
“I think that the biggest thing that happens is that people want to be out and celebrating when the Heels are playing in the Tournament,” says McGurk. “In the evening people want to go out and eat and drink downtown before and they want to get a good spot for watching on TV, and that’s a great boost for our downtown businesses.”
And she says that enthusiasm extends beyond restaurants and bars.
“People also like to get new Carolina gear, a new t-shirt, a sweat shirt or a hat. That’s a boost for our Carolina fan gear shops as well.”
McGurk says fans come downtown seeking more than just a spot in front of the many flat-screened TV’s broadcasting the game. They come for camaraderie.
“I think when it is a tournament like this, there’s a little more excitement. People want to be on Franklin Street when the Heels win, because that’s where the celebration is that’s where the camaraderie is, and that’s where you find the stranger who becomes a friend because they’re also a Carolina fan.”
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Men’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. Semi-final games tip off Saturday at 1 p.m and 3 p.m. Sunday’s championship game gets underway at 1 p.m. You can catch the Learfield Sports pre-game coverage on WHCL starting at noon.
In Chapel Hill, March Madness Is Big Business
CHAPEL HILL – March Madness is officially under way in Chapel Hill, with the Tar Heels set to begin ACC Tournament play Friday night—and across town, local restaurants and sports bars are preparing for a big weekend.
“We’re definitely looking for a crowd,” says Patrick Cowden, the executive chef at the new Tobacco Road Sports Café at East 54. “We’re adding a few extra seats, definitely having a nice full staff ready to take on anybody who wants to come and spend the day watching ACC basketball…
“We’ve got over 50 TVs, (so) any kind of tournament, any kind of game you want to see, we’ll definitely have it on.”
Tobacco Road has other locations in the Triangle, but this is the first ACC tourney for its new home in Chapel Hill.
And while the staff at Tobacco Road gets ready for its first ACC tournament experience, longtime institutions like Top of the Hill on Franklin Street are gearing up as well.
“What’s interesting about the ACC tourney is, you don’t really know what’s going to happen,” says Top of the Hill proprietor Scott Maitland. “Because it’s spring break, it gets a little bit of a different crowd than we normally would for a game–but it’s something that we definitely have to stay flexible on and prepare for big crowds.”
The ACC tourney provides a sizable economic boost for local businesses like Topo and Tobacco Road, though the NCAA tournament tends to be an even bigger moneymaker. Still, it’s going to be an exciting weekend—especially with St. Patrick’s Day falling on Sunday.
“We’ll definitely have our Irish on for the weekend–plenty of corned beef and cabbage and reubens and Guinness in the house as well,” says Cowden. (So if you happen to have any Carolina green gear, now’s the time to pull it out.)
The Tar Heels begin their run through the ACC Friday night at 9:00 pm. It’s ACC quarterfinal day: WCHL will broadcast all four games from the Greensboro Coliseum, beginning with pregame coverage at 11:00 a.m. before Miami takes on Boston College at noon. At 5:00 Ron Stutts and Art Chansky will be live from Bailey’s Sports Grille for a special one-hour edition of Countdown to Tipoff, presented by Harrington Bank.