Monday, September 1, 2014

Six months to the day after announcing that the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament would remain in Charlotte for the next six years, conference officials and their partners are holding their next press conference, themed as "New Day-New Event." The press event will take place Wednesday, September 3 at 1:45 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena, and the public will be able to watch it via live stream at

The press conference will provide updates on the weeklong tournament, which in 2015 will take place February 23-28, giving more details on the new partnership between the CIAA, City of Charlotte, and the Charlotte Hornets. CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams, Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Trevor Fuller, Hornets President Fred Whitfield, and CRVA CEO Tom Murray are scheduled to speak, discussing topics such as tournament ticket sales, hotel availability, VIP experiences in Time Warner Cable Arena, and official CIAA events, according to the press release I received.

Photo by Jon Strayhorn/Media Arts Collective

In 2014, the CIAA Tournament completed its 69th year, with Charlotte being its home for the last nine years, and during its time here has experienced phenomenal growth. The weeklong festivities, which in addition to the 20-plus college basketball games held over several days between the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, are highlighted by the more than 200 parties and social events that go on that week, mostly unaffiliated with the CIAA but put on by independent party promoters and event planners. The events draw tens of thousands of visitors to Charlotte that week, including dozens of celebrities, and has close to a $50 million economic impact on the city annually.

The Charlotte Post published an article in July that said Bojangles' Coliseum could become a second site for the basketball tournament, specifically that the first two days of games, which are usually poorly attended, would be held there, while the Thursday-Saturday games, which typically get great attendance, would continue at Time Warner Cable Arena. I think that makes sense from a logistical standpoint, but the downside is that for those two days it would move the games away from Uptown, which is the center of all the CIAA-related action. One of the great things about the tournament's location, as it has been the last several years, is that you can park in Uptown (or take the light rail there) and walk to everything--the arena, convention center, hotels, and the majority of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.

Another issue of contention for the CIAA is control over hotel rooms. Its commissioner has stated in the past that they want to receive contracts for large blocks of rooms at many Charlotte hotels so that they can better serve their fans, alumni, teams, and partners. If granted, it would be similar to what the Democratic National Convention had in 2012, which would allow them to handle room reservations and then turn over any remaining rooms back to the hotels by a specified date. This would also help prevent price gouging that tends to go on in regards to hotel room rates that week. February/early March is a slow time for hotels here, but the week of the CIAA Tournament often sees rooms go for two or three times the normal rates, and they still tend to sell out.

Founded in 1912, the CIAA is the nation's first African-American athletic conference, and it represents rich tradition and history for African-Americans who have graduated from its colleges and played on its sports teams over the last 100 years. Some students are now the third or fourth generation in their family to attend a CIAA school, dating back to a time when blacks were denied admission to most colleges in this country. Today's 12 CIAA schools are: Bowie State University, Chowan University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, The Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Livingstone College, Saint Augustine's University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and Winston-Salem State University. 

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