Hoping to keep the Atlantic Coast Conference in North Carolina, legislators want to put $15 million aside to get the collegiate athletic conference to stay in North Carolina. But it may involve moving the conference's headquarters to Charlotte, lawmakers say.
The ACC has called Greensboro home since the conference was founded in 1953. Legislators say the ACC was considering moving its headquarters to Florida.
“Our goal was to keep the ACC in North Carolina,” said Rep. John Hardister, a Guilford County Republican and majority whip in the state House.
In a statement, the ACC said it has not made a decision on a move from Greensboro.
“The process surrounding the review and assessment of the conference office location is ongoing. No decision has been made by the ACC Board of Directors,” the ACC said.
“The good news is, we kept the ACC in North Carolina, because there was a real possibility they were going to relocate to Florida,” Hardister said. “Being from the Triad, from the Guilford County area, I would have much preferred if they had stayed in Greensboro.”
The $15 million in the budget puts conditions on the ACC to hold at least four championships for men’s and women’s basketball, and four men’s baseball championships in the state.
Four North Carolina teams, N.C. State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke and Wake Forest, are part of the ACC.
Other ACC members include Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame (except football), Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
The N.C. state budget, released Tuesday by GOP leaders in the legislature, does not name the ACC. The provision for $15 million is for a “qualifying collegiate sports employer" defined as “an entity with four charter members that are institutions of higher education in the state.”
“The ACC intends to move its HQ from Greensboro to Charlotte if the budget passes with the $15M ransom to keep it from leaving the state altogether,” Guilford County Democratic Sen. Michael Garrett said in an email.
“I see this move for what it is: the ACC fleecing NC taxpayers at a time when they are struggling to keep gas in their tanks and food on the table,” he said. “This is a deeply disappointing development for our community, which has made massive investments over decades to make the ACC what it is today.”
Hardister said the budget doesn’t tell the ACC to go to Charlotte. “That was their decision,” he said.
“In Greensboro, where we have the coliseum, we’re still going to get a lot of ACC tournaments there,” Hardister said. “I wish they’d stay in Greensboro, but at least they chose to stay in North Carolina.”
He said the deal came from talks with the Department of Commerce, leaders in the legislature and the ACC. Hardister said he was not involved in the negotiations.
“Our goal was plain and simple: We want to keep you in North Carolina, whether Greensboro or Charlotte or Raleigh,” he said.