Andrew Dys

Rock Hill, York County looking to bring ACC, NCAA events here

Clemson’s Angie Salyer tries to block a shot by North Carolina's Tracy Sadler during the 1996 ACC women’s basketball tournament at Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill. The Tigers won the game 67-49.
Clemson’s Angie Salyer tries to block a shot by North Carolina's Tracy Sadler during the 1996 ACC women’s basketball tournament at Winthrop Coliseum in Rock Hill. The Tigers won the game 67-49. Charlotte Observer file photo

After the bombshell dropped Wednesday by the ACC and NCAA over the discrimination of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, Rock Hill and York County officials are already looking at the possibility of hosting some of those displaced tournaments.

Area tourism officials have already looked at seeking NCAA events coming up as early as December and will look at trying to get ACC events now that both will be seeking new homes for 2016 and 2017 tournaments, said Auvis Cole, director of sales and sports for the Rock Hill-York County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. The bureau has submitted applications for NCAA lacrosse, soccer and golf, Cole said.

But Tuesday’s ACC decision to leave North Carolina brings the ACC opportunities for York County as well, Cole said.

“We would like to see if there is an opportunity to host, and if so we will do all we can,” Cole said.

York County’s central and neutral site location gives the area “just as good a chance as anybody” to land the events, Cole said.

The ACC has yet to advise deadlines for sites seeking to handle the tournaments that were taken from North Carolina, Cole said.

City leaders with the Rock Hill Sports Commission and as well as state and county sports and commerce officials are also looking at what can be done to land some of the events, said Katie Quinn, spokesperson for the city of Rock Hill.

“We are looking at all those events where we would have the venues, the capability, to host,” Quinn said.

The York County Regional Chamber of Commerce would support any effort to get the tournaments locally and in South Carolina, said Rob Youngblood, chamber president.

Winthrop Athletic Director Ken Halpin said he and other school leaders are also looking at what potential events Winthrop could host.

South Carolina flying the Confederate flag at the Statehouse and the NAACP boycott honored by the ACC and NCAA cost this state dearly, including York County losing the ACC baseball tournament played at Knights Stadium in the Fort Mill area in 2000 and 2001.

The flag cost people millions here in money to be made from fans. But the flag came down last year and the ban was lifted.

York County does not have a football stadium to seek the ACC title game, but it appears that other sports are within reason. The obvious choice now that it is North Carolina on the losing side of the boycott is to try to bring back to the ACC women’s basketball tournament to Rock Hill and Winthrop Coliseum, where the tournament was played for five years in the 1990s. And maybe look at golf or tennis, even soccer, in Rock Hill, too. The ACC dropped North Carolina from all of those tournaments, plus swimming and diving and baseball.

Rock Hill has Manchester Meadows, already home to big tournaments for soccer. The Knights baseball stadium was demolished, but in the 20 years since the women’s basketball tournament was played here in an arena that seats 6,100, York County and Rock Hill has added thousands of hotel rooms and amenities. Cole said that York County now has more than 3,300 hotel rooms – enough to handle any of the tournaments.

Britt Blackwell, York County Council chairman, said no one has talked to him about York County being a replacement site, but added that there is no question that the economic impact from hosting any of the ACC tournaments would be huge.

“We have felt the burn that North Carolina is feeling right now, and it would appear that Rock Hill and Winthrop would have the facilities to offer that opportunity,” Blackwell said.

Listen to this, Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA – we have learned our lesson in South Carolina about discrimination. Both just dumped North Carolina over the discrimination of HB2 against transgender people, but there is no such discrimination here.

Anymore, anyway.

Bring your tournaments to York County.