Early thoughts on the ACC tourney: Hess honored, small crowd

Despite the first game of the ACC basketball tournament being a good one, the attendance could hardly be called a crowd. As one Twitter said, “I’ve seen bigger crowds for noon Canes-Thrashers games in this building than this ACC game.”

The three referees working the Wake Forest-Maryland opening game have “KH” written with white tape on their shoes, evidently in tribute to Karl Hess, who came under fire for ejecting two former NC State players from the stands of a game earlier this season.

John Clougherty, head of ACC officials, says that Hess is not going to work the ACC tournament because he didn’t want to be a distraction.

Back to the attendance issue: The ACC’s regular-season attendance declined for the fourth consecutive year in 2011-12, with the average home crowd falling to 9,632. Attendance has dropped 13.8 percent from 2005-06, which was the first season the ACC had the current 12 teams.

Only Virginia and North Carolina saw increases in attendance this season.

The reasons are varied – including rising ticket prices, strange times and days to accommodate TV, and convenience of watching all the games in high definition rather than fighting traffic to get to games.

But, in relation to the ACC tournament, the main problem is playing the games in Atlanta. If the tournament were in Greensboro, it would be a happening and a lot more people would be there.