ACC Football Championship Moved To Orlando Over Anti-LGBT Law | NBC Connecticut
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ACC Football Championship Moved To Orlando Over Anti-LGBT Law

The league has not announced the new sites for the other championships it pulled from North Carolina

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    In this file photo, a general view of the field at Camping World Stadium on September 5, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

    The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Thursday it is moving its 2016 football championship game to Orlando's Camping World Stadium.

    Orlando emerged as a possible location for the Dec. 3 game after the ACC joined other sports leagues in pulling out of North Carolina amid backlash over controversial state House Bill 2.

    The law requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections.

    The ACC Championship Game had been scheduled for Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium, where it had been held since 2010. The announcement came 15 days after the conference — which includes both the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles — decided to pull 10 neutral-site championships from North Carolina. That decision came days after the NCAA said it would relocate its championship events from the state.

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    Protesters greeted returning lawmakers with chants and petitions bearing more than 180,000 signatures calling for House Bill 2, the state's new bathroom law that bars transgender people from using their identified gendered bathroom and prohibits local municipalities to pass minority protection laws, to be overturned. (Published Monday, April 25, 2016)

    This will be the sixth time the league holds its title game in Florida, having played it in Jacksonville from 2005-07 and in Tampa in 2008 and '09.

    Charlotte had been a convenient, successful host the past six years, drawing an average crowd of nearly 70,000. With four ACC teams in the Top 25 — No. 3 Louisville, No. 5 Clemson, No. 12 Florida State and No. 14 Miami — this year's matchup figures to be worthy of its prime-time slot on either ESPN or ABC.

    Duke coach David Cutcliffe, whose Blue Devils played in the 2013 championship game in Charlotte, called that city an "incredible location."

    "It's sad for me that it's moved out of a venue that we were fortunate enough to play in once so far, but no question that the state of Florida's got a lot of ACC fans," Cutcliffe said. "We're an East Coast conference, so I think it still represents our conference well."

    Peter Dejong/AP

    Details were scarce about the process by which the ACC selected its new title-game location, with Commissioner John Swofford saying in announcing the move from North Carolina that the league had reached out "in a small way" to potential hosts but acknowledging there were "probably limited possibilities" without identifying them.

    Orlando immediately emerged as an obvious choice.

    The city annually hosts two bowl games with ACC ties — the Citrus and Russell Athletic bowls have agreements to take its teams — and this year an opening game between Mississippi and Florida State was played at the 65,000-seat stadium formerly known as the Florida Citrus Bowl.

    The only problem was, the Florida High School Athletic Association had booked Orlando's stadium for some of its championships that weekend, but the FHSAA announced it would push those back until the following weekend to free up the venue for the ACC. Orlando has played host to the high school championships since 2007.

    "Being able to keep this tradition alive and add another major sporting event is a win-win for our community," Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

    The league has not announced the new sites for the other championships it pulled from North Carolina, including women's basketball in March and baseball in May.