The ACC launched its championship game in 2005 for most of its first five years in existence. A strong crowd of 72,749 showed up for the inaugural game between Florida State and Virginia Tech in Jacksonville, but attendance quickly bottomed to this just two years later:
As the ACC then learned, when your conference championship game pits teams like Boston College, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, it doesn't make much sense to ask those (limited) fan bases to travel to Florida on short notice.
In 2010, the league finally wised up and moved its conference championship to Charlotte. For a conference stretching up and down the East Coast - and now as far west as Louisville - a centric championship game is a must if you're determined to keep it at a neutral site. Charlotte makes the most sense possible (Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter notes the ACC's geographic midpoint is Walnut Cove, N.C., 95 miles north of Charlotte) and the numbers bear that out. After dipping below 55,000 for three straight years, the ACC Championship has drawn an average of 69,632 spectators for its four years at Bank of America Stadium.
Monday, the ACC announced it would keep its championship in Charlotte through 2019.
“We are pleased to announce that Charlotte will continue to be the home of the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship through the 2019 season,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said in the conference's official statement. “The Charlotte Sports Foundation, Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers and entire City of Charlotte have been outstanding partners and continue to facilitate the growth and success of the game and our many ancillary events. This annual weekend is a true celebration of ACC Football.”
Charlotte obviously makes sense for all the reasons listed above, but the league was also wise to keep the ACC Championship in place for karmic reasons. Everything is going right for Swofford's league right now, as evidenced by exhibits A through D listed below that the ACC proudly noted in its release:
• Is home to the defending national champion in Florida State
• Is the first conference in history to have 11 bowl teams in the same year (2013)
• Is the first conference since 1932 to have 11 teams with winning records in a single season (2013)
• Is the first conference in history to have its football student-athletes capture the Heisman Trophy, the Nagurski Trophy, the Outland Trophy, the Doak Walker Award, the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award and the Davey O’Brien Award in the same year (2013)