ACC tourney headed to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center

The Atlantic Coast Conference's annual league tournament will be held at the Barclays Center in New York City in 2017 and 2018.

John David Mercer/John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

DURHAM, N.C. — The announcement had been all but official for weeks, and finally the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Barclays Center made it official: the two-year-old Brooklyn arena will host the conference’s 2017 and 2018 men’s basketball tournaments.

"I firmly believe the experience for our players, our coaches and our fans will be second to none when we come to Barclays," ACC commissioner John Swofford said at a press conference in Barclays Center on Wednesday. "This announcement unites the passion of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball with the energy of New York in one of the world’s best venues. We look forward to being a part of that dynamic combination."

The Barclays Center is currently the home of the Atlantic 10 Tournament (and will be for 2015-16 and again from 2019-21), and the A-10 will partner with the ACC for three doubleheaders between 2015-17 to be played at Barclays. It will be a total of two teams from each league each season.

The Barclays Center is already the home of the New Jersey Nets and it continues to expand its college basketball reach as well. Now, it will arguably feature a bigger conference tournament than its counterpart in Manhattan, the much more famous Madison Square Garden (which hosts the Big East Tournament).

"I think in general, I look at it as a validation for our college basketball platform. Obviously we’ve enjoyed great success with the Atlantic 10 and we look forward to working with the Atlantic 10 in the future, but also bringing the ACC on board I think is a big coup for our building," Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said. "It’s one of the, if not the, premier college basketball conference in the country. And having both the ACC and the Atlantic 10 partner with us, for regular-season games and in tournament play, is a differentiator.

"As I said earlier, I think it truly puts us in a class by ourselves when it comes to college basketball — not only in this market, but also throughout the country."

As the ACC has expanded, such a move has seemed necessary. Many speculated the league would move its tournament to Madison Square Garden, but for whatever reason, a long-term agreement between the two parties couldn’t be reached.

Barclays had been floated as an alternative for quite some time, and it’s clear there was enough mutual interest to make it work well for both parties.

"With our league’s footprint spanning the entire Atlantic coast, this is a perfect opportunity to bring the ACC basketball tournament to the media capital of the world. The 15 member institutions in the ACC have strong histories and ties to New York with each one boasting an active alumni chapter in the greater New York area," Swofford said. "Having postseason ties in basketball with Barclays and in football through our partnership with the Yankees and the Pinstripe Bowl is outstanding for our league."

The Virginia Cavaliers captured the 2014 ACC Tournament title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The future of the ACC Tournament remains up in the air. Its longtime home has been Greensboro, N.C., with some pitstops in other cities, including Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Washington, D.C. and even Tampa, Fla. — and all to varying degrees of success. ACC traditionalists would say that fans won’t show up to this kind of an event so far from home — though it is technically in the ACC’s proverbial footprint, it’s not as close as Greensboro is to all but two of the ACC schools. 

Greensboro will likely remain part of the ACC’s rotation for the foreseeable future, but Yormark said he understands that the venue needs to do everything it can to encourage the ACC to come back.

"Obviously we would encourage to put us in what potentially might be a rotation of venues, but we’ve got to earn our stripes," Yormark said. "We’ve got to provide an extraordinary experience and give them a reason to come back, and that would certainly be our goal."

The interest, though, is mutual.

"Our teams want to be in New York. All of our schools have a lot of alums here. It’s a mecca for college basketball — has been for many, many years," Swofford said. "And it’s the media capital of the world. We want our brand in this city, in this facility, in Brooklyn. So we’re really excited about this and what it can do for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"With our new footprint and our expanded membership, it’s very logical for us to have our what is a premier event in college basketball and in our conference in this market."