Friday, March 9, 2007

Holding the Tournament at Bay

I suppose I was predisposed to not like having the ACC Tournament in Tampa. The drive in was awful, it certainly isn't a part of the culture here, and at first glance, the town wasn't that welcoming. I've talked to a lot of people here away from the arena, and most of them do not know what the ACC is. When I mention why I'm here, they will say something like, “Oh, that conference thing right? I've heard of that”.

The biggest negative for Tampa is the travel. If you fly down and want to take advantage of anything beyond the downtown area, you have to rent a car. Honestly, it is one hell of an investment in money and time to fly down when you may get bounced like Duke or Maryland. If you drive, it is one hell of a drive. With the tournament in NC, many people can work half days, or just come to the sessions they want, and they know that even if their team gets bounced early, they'll know someone that wants the tickets. Also a big sign that we aren't in ACC Country, the games aren't even on TV here.

Parking is a bit crazy here. There is one, 1500 car deck, then everything else is $20 private lots that at first glance look a little scary. Roads getting in and out of the arena area are confusing.

But, it isn't all bad by a longshot. Who knows how much my opinions may have been colored by the great basketball so far, but this atmosphere has a lot going for it. A friend pointed out this is a lot more like a bowl game than tournament atmosphere. There are 4-6 really nice, high-rise hotels within a block or two of the arena. There is a fantastic part right across from it. All of the hotels have really rolled out the red carpet. A quick walk through some of them between sessions revealed dozens of “Parties”. Hotels have ACC Info desks. The bars are packed with acc fans. There are dozens of good restaurants and bars surrounding the arena. Like in Greensboro, the FanFest area is active and fun. Unlike Greensboro, when you walk out of the arena between sessions, you have dozens of choices of what to do, whether it involves a good sportsbar, a steak dinner, back to the car to tailgate, or walking back to the room for a nap.

The people who did invest in doing the trip the easy way, are having a great time. Many have caught a spring training game, sampled Tampa's somewhat famous night-life, or came down early for a round of golf. Most have stayed close to the arena and are enjoying a completely different kind of tournament where they get to hang out with friends and fellow supporters rather than driving home and getting ready to commute back in the next morning.

I suspect it will be a long while before we see the tournament back in Tampa. Because so many normal supporters were unwilling to make the trip, and so many tickets weren't sold or used by the normal crowd, it has devalued tickets. That isn't a good thing for booster clubs, and that alone will probably be enough to keep the tournament closer to home. But it sure has been fun so far...


Anonymous said...

This afternoon on the packman show Giminski said that yesterday they didn't even that the game on TV in the ACC Headquarters hotel. Apparently that changed today.

Future tournamnets in Charlotte may have the atmosphere you're describing near the arena since their new arena is downtown.

Based on the timing of your posts, I assume you've got wi-fi in the arena.