Area prepares for ACC's move to Tampa in '07

Published March 12, 2006

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Members of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission are a year away from hosting the ACC tournament and the trip here to observe and talk to league officials provided lots of answers and questions.

What jumped out?

How folks here responded to an FBI warning about chatter of a possible terrorist attack at a sports event. Security was ratcheted up on Saturday, to the point that a police officer boarded the VIP and media shuttle buses to check IDs and credentials.

"We were able to see how, in mid event, it changed," executive director Rob Higgins said.

"That happens and they say, "Let's go through this again, and page by page, line by line figure out, is there anything else that we can do or need to do,' " commission chairman Jeff Adams added.

Adams said dealing with the weather is another element. It rained between the semifinals, raising the question of how quickly people can be brought inside (through security) if a storm hits before the first game so they won't have to sit in an arena like the St. Pete Times Forum for hours after being drenched.

Fan experience is a key if Tampa wants to be considered for another ACC tournament. So is the atmosphere - even in Greensboro, where the tournament has been 21 times, there were numerous empty seats on Thursday. If that happens in Tampa, would it be a huge PR problem and a reason not to take the ACC's marquee event too far from its roots?

"That will be discussed a lot here in the next couple months," Adams said.