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CIAA, Charlotte’s Golden Goose

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association annual tournament has become more associated with partying than for the five-day long carnival (see) of basketball that gets played inside Time Warner Cable Arena. (A better use of the facilities than its primary users the Bobcats, which has an overall record of 198-335 since the CIAA move.)

CIAA-logoA quick history lesson. The CIAA itself was founded in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The first official CIAA tournament was held in 1946 in Washington, D.C. Since, locations for the tournament included Richmond, VA (1988), Winston-Salem, NC (1994) and Raleigh, N.C. (2000).

It was in 2006 when the CIAA tournament settled onto the Queen City and has been Charlotte’s Golden Goose. Reports suggest that according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the CIAA tourney laid a golden egg worth $50.5 million that went into the city’s economy last year, $206.8 million over the course of six years.

And right in line with the moral of Aesop’s fable, the “CLT” is on the verge of chopping the head off its prized animal.

Despite the revenue the tournament produces, the CIAA is in the middle of a $500,000 debt crisis from supporting a tournament that increasingly draws nearly 200,000 people. It is the events within the event that bring black folks to uptown Charlotte in droves. With that many people converging on one centralized location, event promoters use the opportunity to take their piece of the pie — using the CIAA as the drawing card. (The CIAA is now suing for trademark infringement.)

And according to former Winston-Salem State basketball coach and current Black Heritage Review freelancer and sports consultant William McNeill, the revenue share — the city of Charlotte is only giving back a smidgen of what the tourney brings — is the primary factor in deciding any potential move.

CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter is reported in wanting to put more behinds in the seats and less feet on the streets (my words not hers). The plan this year was a ticketing strategy that gave fans the opportunity to purchase one ticket, that gives access to all of the games.

I was inside the arena for the majority of the tournament since Tuesday night and that strategy appeared on the surface to have paid off. Even during the Wednesday session, the crowd was respectable. (See video below.)

But the contract between the CIAA and Charlotte runs out in 2014 and  although Charlotte is the perfect place — no other city is bigger, no other city can provide a venue like Time Warner Cable in a the state where eight of the 12 CIAA schools are found — if the Queen City continues to fail in feeding its goose, the golden eggs should stop being hatched.


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