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Tampa lands ACC basketball tourney

The men's event will be held in Florida for the first time in March 2007, at the Ice Palace.


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000

TAMPA -- For much of its illustrious history, the Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball tournament has called Tobacco Road home.

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But the league is taking its marquee event on the road like never before, heading to the Ice Palace and the Tampa Bay area -- its first stop in Florida -- on March 8-11, 2007.

"This is just a fabulous day," said Ron Campbell, president of the Lightning and the Ice Palace and a member of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission board of directors. "It's a huge prize, a cherished prize. It isn't easy to get the ACC to move from Charlotte or Greensboro."

The tournament has been played outside North Carolina just six times in its 50-year history, most recently in 1989 when Atlanta served as host. But the league has gradually warmed to the idea that it should, and must, move the tournament around.

During a Friday morning conference call, the nine schools' faculty representatives unanimously approved a rotation for 2005-2010 of Washington, D.C., Greensboro, Tampa Bay, Charlotte, Atlanta (the site of the 2001 tournament) and back to Greensboro. The tournament is in Charlotte in 2002 and in Greensboro in 2003 and 2004. "It's blazing new ground," ACC commissioner John Swofford said.

"We think that's a real positive thing with Florida State, of course, now being a very prominent part of the league. We think it bodes well for the future of the league and the development of ACC basketball in the state of Florida.

"Yes, four of our schools are in the state of North Carolina, and the tradition and the history and the culture of the tournament has largely been built in the state of North Carolina. It's been extraordinarily successful whenever it's been held here. Certainly, our schools did not want to lose that, and I don't think we'll ever want to lose that. But we also felt it was important to stretch ourselves through the full geographic footprint and into some major markets."

But it seemed like the ACC would never step this far south. Bay area officials tried to woo the tournament for nearly a decade but had never been asked to submit a bid. Until March. Although some feared the Ice Palace would fall shy of the desired seating capacity of 23,000, officials said they will be able to accommodate almost 22,000 for the tournament. Another plus was the burgeoning downtown development and the proximity of the Convention Center, which is an attractive site for the alumni dinner on the second day.

"We're going to have something here that's unique and special in its own way with a fan festive area along the waterfront and in downtown Tampa," said Jeff Adams, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission bid chairman. Adams said landing this event will only help his group's efforts in going after others.

The Ice Palace is the site for first- and second-round NCAA Tournament games in 2003, and he said a bid for 2005 first- and second-round games and even a region final is in the works and now will be stronger. The Sports Commission also is looking at the Conference USA Tournament.

"This," Adams said, "is a great first step to build upon."

Greenberg, Dee meet

South Florida coach Seth Greenberg met with Miami athletic director Paul Dee in Tampa to discuss the Hurricanes coaching job, the Miami Herald reported

Dee also met with NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry for two hours in Fort Myers.

Greenberg was an assistant at UM when the program was restarted in 1984-85 and stayed through the 1986-87 season before becoming an assistant at Long Beach State. Barry is UM's all-time leading scorer. Dee will continue interviewing candidates next week. The summer recruiting period begins July 8.

FSU: Florida State will host Minnesota on Nov. 29 as part of the second annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Two rematches from last year are planned: Illinois-Duke on Nov. 28 and North Carolina-Michigan State on Nov. 29.


DUKE: Tight end Benjamin Watson is leaving the team and looking to attend another school. Watson, of Rock Hill, S.C., played in 11 games as a freshman last season and had eight receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown

McNEESE STATE: Tommy Tate, a longtime assistant, was promoted to head coach. Tate, 44, became interim June 6 when Kirby Bruchhaus resigned amid an investigation of alleged gambling.

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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