Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Third Year Not Charm for City; the ACC Is Expected to Take Its Game Elsewhere Due to Low Attendance

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Third Year Not Charm for City; the ACC Is Expected to Take Its Game Elsewhere Due to Low Attendance

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

Jacksonville bid a likely goodbye to the Atlantic Coast Conference football championship game Saturday after three years of close games, good weather and spotty attendance.

"We did everything we could to make this a first-class experience for the teams and college football fans," said Gator Bowl Association president Rick Catlett, whose organization ran the game. "We're proud of what we did."

Now, it will be the turn of either Charlotte, N.C., or Tampa to make a go of it.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a brief news conference during halftime of the Virginia Tech-Boston College game that a decision on where the event would go would be reached "in a couple of weeks."

Swofford said the options are moving the game to a city for multiple years, or rotating the sites, as the Big 12 Conference does with its title contest.

"We're looking for the best model to make it successful, regardless of who's playing," Swofford said.

Swofford wouldn't rule out the conference keeping the game in Jacksonville, but almost no one at the league office or with the GBA believes it will.

After the first ACC title game between Florida State and Virginia Tech sold out in 2005, in spring-like weather, last year's chilly, rainy game between Wake Forest and Georgia Tech sold just over 62,000 tickets. With sparse support from BC fans and public sales waning because of the absence of a team from Florida, Saturday's game sold only 53,212 tickets.

A chamber-of-commerce weather day didn't seem to spark walk-up sales, and only a few dozen fans were in the upper bowl of the stadium.

Since GBA officials admitted earlier this year that only a sellout would keep the game in Jacksonville, the ACC is likely to take the game to Charlotte, which is located within a drive of no more than several hours from most ACC schools. …

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