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December 2, 2011

John Swofford

Will Webb


MIKE SWOFFORD:  First of all, there's a release being passed out there that you should have in hand.  The purpose of this particular part of the press conference this afternoon is that I'm very, very pleased to be able to announce that by unanimous vote of our athletic directors and faculty representatives that the 2012 and 2013 Dr.Pepper ACC Championship game will be here in Charlotte.
I think it's pretty obvious that both last year and this year are tremendous successes in terms of this game.  They're back‑to‑back sellouts, and that's certainly very, very important to us.  The events surrounding the game are truly outstanding, good growth in the advance ticket sales.  In fact, this year before the two teams were announced, the game was sold out, and that's what you really look for with this type of game‑‑ sold out with the exception of the tickets that the two schools have.
So I think what we have found is just an all‑around quality experience for our fans and our teams and for Charlotte, and we've found a real win‑win kind of situation with this game.
We're just very, very pleased with how last year went, very, very pleased with how we know this year is going.  We anticipate a terrific game tomorrow night with a packed stadium, and our entire league is truly very appreciative of the kind of support that has been extended to the Atlantic Coast Conference from everybody throughout this city.
There are a couple of people and organizations that I want to particularly thank and recognize.  First of all, Charlotte Collegiate Football and their board, particularly Johnny Harris, who has really embraced this idea of bringing the ACC Championship game to Charlotte and backed it from the very beginning; Tom Skains; Steve Luquire; Will Webb, who does much of the day‑to‑day aspects of the game.  Certainly the opportunity to have this game here would not be possible without this great stadium and without the vision and the cooperation of Jerry Richardson and Danny Morrison and the Carolina Panthers.  They have just been terrific.  Our honorary captains Hugh McColl and Harvey Gant, two of the great citizens of Charlotte that have also backed us from the very beginning; the Leatherheads, which is a group very much involved with the selling of tickets here in the local community, and as I've said, that's extraordinarily important.  They have done a tremendous job with the advance ticket sales.  And I want to mention and recognize and point out Michael Kelly, our associate commissioner for football broadcasting and communications, who just does an outstanding job from our office in coordinating the whole weekend.
So we look forward to not only a great weekend this year but being back for at least two more years with the ACC Championship game in Charlotte.
I also want to ask Will Webb to come up and say a few words, and then if you have any questions, we'll both be more than happy to take those.  Will, thanks for the job that you do.
WILL WEBB:  Thank you, Commissioner.  On behalf of Charlotte Collegiate Football, the city, the Leatherheads, we're ecstatic about this announcement.  We're honored to have the ACC here.  We're very pleased that it has grown the way it's grown in the last year, and we look forward to continuing to work hard to continue that growth and to make this a great event year in and year out for Charlotte and the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Q.  Did you open this up for bidding, and if so, what other cities did bid?
MIKE SWOFFORD:  We did not.  We've been so pleased with what we have found here with last year's game and then continuing into this year's game, and the fact that this year's game is sold out, and the sense of cooperation and the momentum that we have found here coupled with all the other assets that we have talked about before in terms of the geographic location, the fact that eight of our schools are within 300 miles of the city of Charlotte, this stadium, the hotels and restaurants downtown, the ability to walk to the game from those places, and just the general overall support.  I think it's pretty telling when all 12 of our schools vote in favor of continuing this relationship without even taking it out to be in consideration.
We've found something that certainly in its first two years has worked extraordinarily well for us, and we want to continue that.

Q.  Was there any thought to making it longer than two years?
MIKE SWOFFORD:  Well, I'll tell you why we went two years, is that it'll put us totally in sync with our Bowl contracts and whatever happens with the postseason football nationally, whether it's an extension of the BCS or something else.  And that'll put the whole thing in a chronological sync that we thought was a wise way to go as we look toward the future.

Q.  Just curious, you mentioned a couple weeks ago that the idea of the Pac‑12 playing these games on campus, expressed a little curiosity about that.  Was that kicked around this time or do you plan to kick it around in the future?
MIKE SWOFFORD:  We really didn't kick it around this time.  I think that's something you take a look at if you don't really find a home.  We prefer a quality neutral site where the game can be consistently successful year in and year out, and hopefully we have found that here in Charlotte.  That's been what we've pursued from the very first championship game.  And certainly our first two years in Charlotte indicate to us that this may well be that home.  So we didn't really seriously consider that in terms of going to campus, but obviously it is something that the Pac‑12 is doing on the West Coast, and we'll see how that goes.
But from a pure competitive standpoint, we very much prefer a neutral site.

Q.  Not that you've had any problems, but having another couple years, will that make it easier to sell tickets going forward and will it be more familiar to the city?
WILL WEBB:  Well, what we've wanted to do was build a brand of a game that's in demand, and last year's sellout helped us this year with renewals.  A month ago we were on the verge of a sellout.  That will help us next year as we go back into the market.  We've got a lot of people this year who weren't able to get tickets because they waited until their team qualified.  That will help us next year.
We learn every year with the events we do how to fine‑tune them, how to make them better, how to make this an event really that is deserving of the ACC's name, and that's what our goal is.

Q.  How does this help the Belk Bowl and vice versa?
WILL WEBB:  Well, what it helps is we've got quality football, quality college football in addition to quality pro football in Charlotte.  Our Leatherheads group is very engaged in both.  As of last week we had sold more tickets to the Belk Bowl this year than we did all of last year for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.  It just helps us to be able to present two very quality college football postseason experiences to the community.
MIKE SWOFFORD:  Belk is sponsoring our event tonight, The Legends Event, that's turned into something really special in terms of this weekend, and Belk is a sponsor of this event tonight.  I went over and visited with the Belk people last week, with Will, and they were spending a great deal of time with Chick‑Fil‑a in terms of taking a look at how to be the best title sponsor of a Bowl that you can be.  I was very pleased to see that because Chick‑Fil‑a does a terrific job in Atlanta, and if Belk is going to emulate somebody, that's a good group to emulate.
But it's great to see a local title sponsor for the Bowl game here in Charlotte and also terrific that they're certainly supportive of the ACC Championship game, as well.
WILL WEBB:  Yeah, the folks at Belk have indicated to us that the success of the ACC helps them be successful, as well, so it's not an us/them, it's hey, we're all together, let's make it work.

Q.  What's the breakdown on tickets available to the public versus how many each school gets?
MIKE SWOFFORD:  Well, each school gets 10,000 tickets.  We hold a total of 20,000.  Conference office, we utilize I think about 4,000 or 5,000; is that right?  2,000, I'm exaggerating.  And then the balance is generally available here locally to the public.

Q.  Is a sellout considered the public sale or also include the school sales?
WILL WEBB:  Well, we are sold out of the public, whatever was available to the public, and I can guarantee you between Clemson and Virginia Tech there's more demand for each school's 10,000 tickets than they've got.  I think they each wish they had a whole lot more.
MIKE SWOFFORD:  Yeah, both schools, the demand, at least from what I'm told, both schools were sold out before they actually‑‑ of their 10,000 each before they actually knew they were coming here.

Q.  Does that mean there are 51,000, give or take, public tickets?
WILL WEBB:  Give or take, that's pretty good math.  That wasn't my forte in college, but that sounds pretty close.
MIKE SWOFFORD:  And as I said earlier, one of the‑‑ the growth, I think, has been very good over the last couple of years in terms of the advance ticket sales, and that tells a lot in terms of the support from the local community, and we're really pleased with that.

Q.  Your answer on the neutral site, safe to extrapolate from that that you would like this to be the permanent home of the game?
MIKE SWOFFORD:  Well, I think it's got all the things you would want in a permanent home, from the beginning, and then when you see the kind of support that it's getting from the city, from local fans, the number of tickets that are being sold outside of the two teams' ticket allotments, it's just an excellent recipe, if you will, for success on an ongoing basis.

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