During his weekly press conference in the WestZone at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked if he had any thoughts into the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game possibly being moved out of Charlotte due to the North Carolina House Bill 2, or otherwise known as HB 2.
Swinney said he did not have any thoughts on the matter, other than he hopes his third-ranked Tigers were playing in it.
“We will go to Pluto and play or wherever. It doesn’t matter,” Swinney said.
Pluto here they come because the ACC Championship Game is currently without a home.
Just after lunch on Wednesday, the ACC announced it was pulling its Dec. 3 championship game out of Charlotte, in wake of the NCAA’s decision to pull its scheduled championships out of the Tar Heel state earlier this week in protest of HB 2.
“The ACC presidents engaged in a constructive, wide-ranging and vigorous discussion of this complex issue over the past two days. The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while HB 2 remains the law was not an easy one but it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all of our institutions,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements, chair of the ACC Council of Presidents in a statement released by the ACC.
Charlotte has been the home of the ACC Football Championship Game since 2010, where it has sold out in three of the six games it has played at Bank of America Stadium, including last year’s record-crowd of 74,514 that watched the Tigers beat North Carolina.
Clemson was also a part of the second most attended championship game in the 11 years the ACC has held the event. The Tigers defeated Virginia Tech in front of a then record-crowd of 73,675 in 2011.
Since moving the game to Charlotte, the league has never had a crowd smaller than 64,778. Before moving it to Charlotte, only one of the first five games was a sellout—the inaugural one—while the other four games were no bigger than 62,850.
“The ACC Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount. Today’s decision is one of principle, and while this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in the same release. “Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships.”
With the ACC Championship Game now less than three months away, the conference will have to scramble to find a suitable replacement for Charlotte. Tampa, who hosted the ACC Championship Game in 2008 and 2009, could be a possibility as could Miami. Both cities, like Charlotte, have NFL Franchises, but the Buccaneers and the Dolphins are on the road that weekend.
If the ACC Championship Game does make its way back to Charlotte, or it ends up in Tampa, Miami or Pluto for that matter, Swinney is fine either way.
“Tell us where it is at and we will go play. That’s really all that matters,” he said. “Tell us where to show up and we will show up, and hopefully everybody can go to the bathroom while we are there.”