Yesterday, the ACC waded in to controversial waters by deciding to move all neutral site championships out of North Carolina in response to the state’s legislation regarding access to public accomodations for transgender individuals.
Whether you think that decision was right or wrong, there’s no walking it back now - so the ACC needs to find a great site to move this year’s football championship game to, originally scheduled to be in North Carolina.
The early favorite to get the nod is Orlando. That would be boring. Don’t do it, ACC. Move the game to Gillette Stadium. Here’s why:
1 - Association with a major brand in sports
Much like playing the Pinstripe Bowl in the home of the Yankees, there would be a certain cachet associated with playing a major football game at the home of the New England Patriots. For kids aged 18-23 playing college football now, the Patriots have been the dominant force in the NFL for pretty much their entire lives. Playing where Brady and Belichick have plied their trade for over 15 years would certainly bring some extra attention to the event and make it extra special for the players.
2 - The chance to appeal to a new audience
In addition, with so much talk about expanding leagues’ footprints in to major markets, playing an ACC Championship and bringing a team like a Florida State or a Clemson to Massachusetts at the end of the season with a CFB playoff berth on the line could reel in some casual eyeballs in New England that might otherwise never give college football the time of day. The usual crowd would tune in on TV regardless of where the game is played, but going with a non-traditional location might attract a new audience, too.
3 - Creating a potentially unique spectacle in a crowded football weekend
Much like when the Super Bowl was awarded to MetLife Stadium, to me the appeal of this option would be the potential for a rare, huge football game to be played in snow, ice, heavy winds or a deep chill. It would add a new layer of intrigue to the game and create a spectacle that is unique in college football, as I doubt any major conference has ever played a championship football game in the Northeast.
I’m imagining GameDay on site with jackets on, measuring snow with rulers or having a thermometer live on air. That would be pretty neat, and would create something unique for the ACC that would stand out amongst the crowd in the crowded conference championship weekend.
4 - You’re pretty much guaranteeing a completely neutral site
Because, yeah. Womp womp.
5 - If you’re going to make a statement, make a statement
The validity and effectiveness of using the location of a sporting championship to make a statement on a societal issue is debatable. But the ACC has already elected to hitch itself to the wagon of making such a statement. So why go halfway? Why not own it and make the statement as clear as possible by moving the game to a state that has been ahead of the curve on LGBT-related issues for many years, without any negative consequences?
Massachusetts recently became one of a small number of states to pass a sort of opposite-of-NC law, legislation that would affirmatively protect right to public accommodation for all individuals regardless of gender identity. And to boot, the move was not a partisan one, with the state’s Republican governor and administration joining with the state’s Democratic legislature to work out agreeable language.
If you’re going to make a statement, make a statement, right? Move the ACC Championship Game to Massachusetts. A little snow won’t hurt!