The ACC Tournament ended its two-year run at Barclays Center with Saturday’s 71-63 Virginia win over North Carolina in the championship game. But if Brett Yormark gets his wish, it won’t be long before it returns to the borough.
The annual conference tournament will be held in Charlotte next year and Greensboro in 2020, but Yormark, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, is already bidding for a return to Brooklyn in 2021.
“I’ve been talking to commissioner [John] Swofford about being part of that regular rotation,” Yormark told The Post. “It’s going really well. They’ve got to go to Charlotte and then they’ve got to go to Greensboro, but I’m very confident they’re going to be coming back to Brooklyn. They’ve really enjoyed their experience here. The coaches have really enjoyed it. The players have enjoyed it and most importantly the fans.”
The ACC isn’t simply comprised of Tobacco Road schools anymore. With recent additions like Syracuse, Pitt and Boston College, there are 15 schools in the conference, and having the tournament in the New York area isn’t as far-fetched as it once sounded.
The economic impact of hosting an ACC Tournament was $25 million in 2015 when it was held in Greensboro. It figures to be double that in Brooklyn, where hotels and restaurants have been jammed throughout the week. With most of the tickets pre-sold at the various campuses, attendance at the games has lived up to expectations. A crowd of 18,157 witnessed the Tar Heels 74-69 victory over Duke on Friday night. It was the largest crowd ever to witness a college basketball game at Barclays Center.
“Obviously, it’s been terrific for us,” Yormark said. “When we announced the ACC was coming here it was a validation of our college basketball program. Just having the Dukes, the North Carolinas, the Notre Dames here, not only are they great programs, but they have a great following with all the alumni here. It has created a great destination week for people to come to Brooklyn whether people had been here before or it’s their first time. It’s been great for us.”
It hasn’t been bad for the ACC either. Swofford, appearing at the New York Stock Exchange this week said, “It’s really a natural to bring the nation’s premier collegiate basketball tournament to New York. This is a real mecca for college basketball. There are a lot of fans and a lot of alums here.”
While a return of the ACC Tournament is being negotiated, the Atlantic 10 Tournament will be held at Barclays Center for the next three years after playing its conference tourney in Pittsburgh and Washington the past two years.
Yormark, meanwhile, is continuing to speak with major college teams from the SEC and Big 10 to play one or two regular-season nationally televised games in Brooklyn each season. His intention to make Barclays Center synonymous with major college basketball is similar to his goal of making it a sought-after venue for world-class boxing.
“When we built the Barclays Center there was a couple of franchises we wanted to build because of the DNA of Brooklyn and that was boxing and basketball,” Yormark said. “This is a basketball market and it’s just not a pro market. It’s also a college market and we wanted to be in the forefront of college basketball just like we wanted to be in the forefront of boxing. I’ve spent a lot of time developing both those platforms.”
Yormark has seen that vision realized in the span of seven days. A week after staging the WBC heavyweight championship between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz at Barclays Center, North Carolina and top-ranked Virginia played for the championship of the ACC Tournament.