CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For the second time in less than a month, center city Charlotte is hosting a major college basketball event, but this time there was no surcharge on Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte lounge receipts.
When WBTV reached out to the Charlotte Ritz-Carlton, they said there was not a surcharge because the NCAA tournament historically "has not drawn large crowds to the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte and has not required any expansion of our Lobby Lounge facilities or departure from the normal service provided by our staff."
This weekend, our city was home to the first round of the NCAA tournament, but at the beginning of March a controversy started when thousands came to town for the CIAA tournament.
Patrons of the Ritz Carlton that weekend were angry after learning the hotel passed on a CIAA surcharge to hotels bar checks. Many CIAA fans felt violated.
This weekend when we looked at a bill from the hotel lounge, there was no surcharge or even a mention of the tournament on the bill.
Rick McClanahan is among those who question the hotel's motive to have a surcharge for the event. "It was a little strange when I first heard it," he said. "I can understand everybody raising their prices across the board for an event that's happening in Charlotte. It seems that they were picking on them a little bit."
The hotel said in a statement to WBTV that was not the case. They said the surcharge was there because of the large CIAA crowds, "In the past, the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte has imposed a mandatory service charge in the Lobby Lounge to be distributed to the employees for events that require an expansion of the facilities to accommodate unusually large crowds or a departure from the normal Lobby Lounge service provided by our staff, such as our Holiday Afternoon Tea in December and the weekend of the CIAA Basketball Tournament."
Jeff Williams plays his guitar outside the Ritz Carlton at the corner of College and Trade on most weekends when there are big turnouts. He thinks the surcharges are unjustified.
"It should be fair across the board," Williams said. "Everybody should operate as normal and appreciate the business that's coming through."
In recent days, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that he would launch an investigation into complaints over a the CIAA surcharge.
Uptown patrons like Les Lang say such a probe will answer questions and bring closure. "I think it probably should be investigated, but at the same time its not surprising," he said.