The ACC is losing its only school within 100 miles of Washington to the Big Ten next year, but that won’t stop the league from having a presence in the District in the future.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced Wednesday that the 2016 ACC men’s basketball tournament will be held at Verizon Center. The arena also hosted the event in 2005, and it will be the fifth time the ACC tournament has taken place in the Washington area.
All of those previous tournaments, however, included Maryland, which will leave the ACC for the Big Ten starting next fall.
“We are excited to bring the ACC tournament back to the nation’s capital in 2016,” Swofford said in a statement. “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.”
A total of 121,806 spectators attended the six sessions in 2005 at what was then known as MCI Center. At the time, the ACC only had 11 teams.
The league has traditionally held the tournament near its “home base” of Greensboro, N.C., and Charlotte, although seven cities and 11 venues have hosted the event since it began in 1954.
The ACC tournament will be held at Greensboro Coliseum the next two years.
Since the ACC expanded its footprint to include former Big East schools such as Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville, speculation has centered around the league’s desire to bring the tournament to New York City for the first time.
Swofford acknowledged the ACC’s interest in New York at the league’s annual men’s basketball media day event last month in Charlotte. But Madison Square Garden has a contract with the Big East tournament that runs through 2026 and the Atlantic 10 has a contract with Barclays Center in Brooklyn to hold its conference tournament there through the 2017 season.
The 2016 ACC tournament will take place over five days and include 15 teams and 14 games beginning on Wednesday, March 9. Before coming to Washington in 2005, the ACC tournament was held at the former Capital Centre in Landover in 1976, 1981 and 1987.
“Verizon Center is thrilled to once again host the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Washington D.C.,” David Touhey, Verizon Center senior vice president and general manager, said in the ACC release. “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.”