Just wait until next year at this time – that’s the word from sports tourism officials in Greensboro.
As the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament rages on – with Duke playing in Columbia, SC and the North Carolina Tarheels in Columbus, Ohio – and with the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament played in Charlotte earlier this month – Greensboro has been suffering from a noticeable lack of March Madness action. While the Greensboro Coliseum did host the ACC Women’s Tournament as usual, after years of hosting the ACC Men’s Tournament and often having NCAA tournament games in town, it’s too quiet here for some given all the basketball going on elsewhere in the country.
But all good things come to those who wait, and, according to area officials responsible for promoting sports tourism here, next year is going to really be something. Next March, Greensboro will host a major basketball tournament for three straight weeks: first, the ACC Women’s Tournament, followed by the ACC Men’s Tournament, followed by first-round NCAA games.
Those responsible for putting on the events are already planning to make those three weeks something very special – a three-week period that will showcase Greensboro like never before.
Richard Beard, a local developer and site consultant who serves on the Greensboro Sports Foundation, said Greensboro is attempting to create a stunning tournament environment for three weeks straight.
“We’re going to blow it out next year,” Beard said. “We’re going to put on a show – we need to put on a show.”
Beard said that what happens at this time next year in Greensboro will play a big role in drawing future ACC tournaments, NCAA tournament games and other major sporting events.
Many coaches, players and ACC administrators over the years have said that Greensboro and the Greensboro Coliseum do such an amazing job of putting on the tournament that the experience for the participants here is head and shoulders above what it is in other places. One reason is that, when the tournament comes to Greensboro, it’s the complete focus of the city for five days; but, when it’s played in New York, Atlanta or another major city, it’s just one of many events going on there that week.
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said years ago that he thought the ACC Tournament should always be played in Greensboro because of the way the participants are treated and the way in which the tournament takes over the city. The coach also had very high praise for coliseum staff and others who play a role in hosting the tournament.
Beard said even the fans from up north are impressed when they attend an ACC Tournament or NCAA Tournament games in Greensboro.
“People from the northeast come here and they are blown away,” he said, adding that that pertains to everything from the elaborate tailgating parties in the parking lot to the southern hospitality that the visitors experience.
“We say hello to people,” Beard said.
He also said that one thing Greensboro is battling is the idea some people have that there’s nothing to do in Greensboro. He said the March 2020 plans call for wiping that idea out of anyone’s mind.
According to Beard, Greensboro must be more impressive than ever now that the league has expanded to such an extent.
“Our biggest challenge is that half of the ACC is old Big East schools,” he said.
Henri Fourier, the president and CEO of the Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that, in recent years, there’s been an impressive stream of sports tourism in Greensboro – including ACC competitions in other sports such as swimming, golf and baseball.
“We’ve got a lot to offer,” Fourier said of Greensboro, adding that the city’s successes in putting on major basketball tournaments and other large sporting events create future successes.