By Jim Pomeranz
Not to rekindle the ongoing love-hate relationship between Charlotte and Raleigh, but when it comes to the Atlantic Coast Conference possibly relocating its headquarters, possibly departing Greensboro after nearly 70 years, I ask, “if Charlotte, why not Raleigh?”
Recently, the ACC Board of Directors voted to explore moving out of Greensboro – which doesn’t mean Greensboro is losing the ACC headquarters. It means the ACC will be talking to other cities throughout the ACC footprint that meet basic criteria.
When stories about ACC headquarters relocation appear, Charlotte gets mentioned as a possible replacement headquarters, but Raleigh is not.
“I saw the news and had the same reaction,” Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said in an email when I asked him for a comment. The GRSA recruits sports tournaments, events, championships and the like. He has a strong opinion why the ACC should pick the Raleigh area.
“Based on the stated criteria from the conference office,” wrote Dupree, “Raleigh and Cary certainly check the boxes and would without question be strong and viable candidates. Then you factor in this market’s unmatched passion for ACC sports and our history with the conference, and it makes a lot of sense. You can make a compelling case for the Raleigh region.”
The criteria are simple with both Charlotte and the Raleigh region meeting most conditions:
- Eastern Time Zone
- Population size with positive growth trends
- Diversity of population
- Large hub airport with effective accessibility to and from all ACC members (airfares to Charlotte are typically more expensive than Raleigh)
- Benefit to the ACC brand and synergies
- Financial considerations
Maybe the only advantage Charlotte has in relation to hosting the ACC headquarters is Bank of America Stadium, host of the NFL’s Panthers and soon to host a professional soccer team. It’s the host of the ACC football championship game and the Mayo Bowl. Neither hinges on a headquarters in Charlotte.
ESPN, which owns the ACC Network, has a studio in Charlotte for the Southeastern Conference, right in the middle of the ACC’s geographical footprint. (A second ESPN studio in Charlotte is in the basement of Mark Packer’s home, where he and Wes Durham host the ACC Network’s Packer and Durham morning show Monday through Friday. All other ACC Network studio shows are produced on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus, which is a shame.)
According to Dupree, Raleigh also offers an “unmatched passion for ACC sports” with N.C. State in Raleigh, Duke in Durham, and UNC in Chapel Hill. Relocation of a conference headquarters should consider such closeness, giving the Raleigh area a leg up on Charlotte. The enthusiasm for ACC sports should carry over to the revenue side of relocating to Raleigh.
If the ACC sets up shop in Raleigh, a full-fledged television studio could be part of the financial considerations to entice ESPN to locate the ACCN studio alongside the ACC’s new digs.
The Raleigh and Cary chambers of commerce and Wake County Economic Development are experts in such high-profile relocation efforts. These agencies should not sit back and yield to Charlotte. Go after the ACC, now!
(Pomeranz is a Sanford native, a graduate and former employee of N.C. State University, and a freelance writer who lives in Cary.)