Aug. 19, 2004
By RON WORD
Associated Press Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Atlantic Coast Conference chose Jacksonville on Thursday to host its first two championship games.
The first game will be played Dec. 3, 2005, at Alltel Stadium, and is expected to earn the revamped conference about $6 million.
The ACC added the game as part of its expansion to 12 teams; Miami and Virginia Tech are joining the conference this year, and Boston College will join next year.
The conference has the option to renew the contract for another two years, ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a teleconference from Greensboro, N.C.
"Alltel Stadium and the city of Jacksonville will provide our schools with not only an outstanding facility in which to play, but also an enthusiastic community that has always embraced college football," Swofford said.
ACC faculty representatives unanimously chose Jacksonville over Charlotte, N.C., in a telephone conference call Thursday morning.
Swofford refused to discuss the amount of money pledged by Jacksonville. He said the city's financial bid, its sports facilities and its long association with the ACC and the Gator Bowl were factors in the decision. The Gator Bowl typically hosts an ACC team for its New Year's Day game.
Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton accepted the offer on behalf of the city. He estimated the game will put $50 million in the city economy because of out-of-town guests staying at hotels and eating at restaurants.
"We have always had a special spot in our hearts for college football, as any Gator Bowl or Florida-Georgia participant can tell you," Peyton said. "We will give a warm welcome to the fans, and we look forward to working with the ACC and the Gator Bowl Association to build another great football tradition here."
The Gator Bowl Association will run the game for the city, which is not charging the ACC for use of Alltel Stadium.
Peyton said getting a Super Bowl and regularly hosting NFL and college football games proves that Jacksonville knows how to put on a big event.
The ACC title game winner earns a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.
Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said the decision came down to stadium size. Charlotte's stadium is privately owned and seats about 73,000. Alltel Stadium is owned by the city and seats 77,497.
Catlett sweetened the city's initial bid by guaranteeing a sellout. Based on the number of seats and league-established ticket prices, the financial guarantee is $5.9 million, compared to $5.3 million.
AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard in Greensboro, N.C., contributed to this report.