Tech unexpected host of two athletic events

Photo by John Nakano

Over the past few weeks, news has been good for use of Tech facilities by outside benefactors. On Oct. 4, the ACC announced that the 2017 ACC Swim and Dive Championships would be held in McAuley Aquatic Center after being moved from Greensboro, N.C., due to controversy over the state’s controversial anti-transgender legislation.

This event is one of the first to have its new location announced after the decision that all postseason events would be moved from N.C. The following day, new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United announced that its home opener and all games would be held in Bobby Dodd Stadium until the opening of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Swim and Dive Championships were originally going to be held in the Greensboro Aquatic Center. However, due to legislature passed by multiple states following N.C. House Bill 2 (HB2), the event was moved to Atlanta.

The legislation passed by states such as New York prevent state travel to North Carolina, meaning that student athletes would not receive the funding to travel to North Carolina for the event. This made an already difficult logistics situation virtually impossible for a number of teams.

Tech is no stranger to hosting the ACC Swim and Dive Championships; McAuley last played host in 2015 and additionally hosted the NCAA Zone Diving Qualifiers and the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships last season. The women’s swimming and diving along with the men’s diving championships will be held from Feb. 13–16 while men’s swimming will be held from Feb. 27–March 2.

Atlanta United’s announcement comes as the fervor for the team continues to grow. The team recently broke the MLS-record for ticket sales by crossing the 22 thousand mark.

Right now, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is slated to open in June 2017. The futuristic stadium is slated to replace the neighboring Georgia Dome and will also play host to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and a number of other entertainment events.

The exact date for the opener has yet to be announced. However, it will be sometime during March 2017.

The decision to play early games at Tech came about because the team did not want to open its season with three straight months on the road. As a result, Atlanta United has agreed to shoulder all costs related to its games at Bobby Dodd while a more permanent venue is constructed.

What North Carolina has lost seems to be a significant gain for the Jackets. Rather than traveling north to Greensboro to compete next semester, they will have the benefit of competing where they train: in their home confines.

Spring is usually seen as a rather uneventful time for large sporting events in Atlanta. The Falcons and Braves are in the offseason for months; only the Hawks and college basketball provide entertainment. With the Swim and Dive Championships and a new MLS franchise in town, that will likely change quickly.

Tech’s facilities are not the best in its conference, let alone the nation. Coaches and administrators alike have acknowledged that changes need to be made for the Jackets’ amenities to remain competitive with its rivals.

For the time being, at least, Tech seems to have endeared itself to a pair of prestigious organizations. Visitors to McAuley Aquatic Center will experience championship-level competition, and Bobby Dodd Stadium will birth a sports franchise.