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Greensboro seeks ACC Tourney for DT ballpark

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Greensboro makes pitch to lure ACC tournament to new downtown ballpark


By Rob Daniels Staff Writer

News & Record

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Much like the facility that is the entire point of the effort, the bid to lure the ACC baseball tournament to Greensboro's downtown park is in the foundation stages.

And it began -- albeit informally -- with a get-acquainted party Sunday evening as part of the conference's annual spring meetings at the Ritz-Carlton.

The discussions could not officially be construed as an official bid because the league doesn't consider proposals until a venue is completed. Construction on the 8,000-seat park at Bellemeade and Eugene Streets is expected to be done by the beginning of the minor-league season in April 2005.

When meeting in August 2005, the ACC baseball committee will solicit bids for the tournaments in 2007 and 2008, said Wake Forest athletics director Ron Wellman, chair of the panel.

"With a new downtown stadium, I'd like to think we could get it for more than a couple of years, but we'll see," said Marc Bush, president of the Greensboro Sports Commission and one of the party's hosts.

"I've seen the designs of the ballpark, and it's going to be beautiful," Wellman said. "It will be in a great location. There's no reason to discount their potential. At all."

Greensboro has never been a relevant player in ACC baseball because War Memorial Stadium has been considered inadequate from the moment the conference was founded at Sedgefield Country Club 51 years ago this month.

The new facility could change everything.

For logistical reasons, the conference, based in a $1.5 million building off Grandover Parkway, enjoys conducting championships in its hometown. Its women's basketball tournament, once considered stagnant, has enjoyed unprecedented success and growth in its five years at the Greensboro Coliseum.

"We've been looking for a place to call home and to stay," said Dee Todd, the ACC official who administers the baseball tournament. "Greensboro has done such a great job with everything it has hosted. It already has a local organizing committee in place."

The meetings began Sunday morning when athletics directors convened with executives of ABC-ESPN to discuss the parties' impending and new seven-year broadcasting contract, which is fueled by the addition of Miami and Virginia Tech on July 1, 2004 and Boston College on July 1, 2005. An ACC official said a formal announcement of the TV deal could come before the meetings adjourn on Wednesday.

Last month, commissioner John Swofford said the agreement had effectively been reached and was awaiting only the completion of legal language.

One source from a school and another from television suggested the new pact will pay the ACC an annual average of approximately $38 million a year. According to tax returns, the conference made a total of $22.2 million from football on TV in the 2002, the most recent season for which records are available.

That figure includes revenue from the Jefferson-Pilot syndicated package as well.

The ACC is also working on a new syndicated contract, but Ken Haines, chief executive officer of Charlotte-based Raycom Sports, said that pact is in its early stages and not likely to be announced this week.

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I think this will be great if we can make Greensboro the permanent home for the ACC Baseball Tournament. Greensboro already hosts the Men's and Women's basketball tournament more than any other city. Greensboro cant host the ACC football championship game because Greensboro doesnt have a football venue to host it. Charlotte will likely get football. But What even great is that Downtown Greensboro and its skyline will get major media exposure to much of the southeast including the northeast when Boston College joins the ACC. I think its only natural to go with one of the ideas I had about building the ACC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum next to the ballpark. It would work out perfectly. Greensboro based Jefferson-Pilot is a major sponsor for the ACC and thats great advertisement for Jefferson-Pilot to have video images of its corporate headqaurters on tv screens all up and down the east coast seaboard.








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