Charlotte is in jeopardy of losing its largest annual event and the millions of dollars it brings in.
The CIAA college basketball tournament is contracted for Charlotte through 2020, but Monday the association announced after 13 years, it’s opening up the bidding for where the tournament will be held after that.
“There are some board members who would like to extend immediately but I think collectively as a board they want to make sure that we do our due diligence and vet out other opportunities,” CIAA commissioner Jacqie Williams told WBTV back in May.
Though it is just one event, it is Charlotte’s largest all year. In 2018, it pumped almost $51 million into the local economy. $12 million were labor wages, supporting more than 400 jobs.
“Everyone involved, it’s more money for everyone,” bartender Lee Glenn says.
Glenn says if the tournament and the thousands of visitors it brings left, local industry would feel it.
“I know some places that were closing down years ago, and they threw some parties that weekend because of CIAA, and it actually got them out of their hole and they’re still open to this day,” he says.
Now, the CIAA will make its requests for the future, but the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority has not yet decided if it will submit another bid.
“We’ll evaluate what that support looks like,” Laura White with the CRVA says. “Whether it’s infrastructure, such as the arena or the convention center, or scholarship funds we provide on an annual basis…and see if we’re able to support and submit a bid from there.”
In a statement, the CIAA says:
“The selection of the future CIAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament site is in alignment with site selections for all CIAA championships. The conference's Board sees this as a great opportunity to open the tournament experience to other markets and to forge new alliances. Charlotte has been a great home for us and we look forward to continuing our partnership. Our future includes writing a new chapter in our tournament's history, with a goal of creating exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our student-athletes, coaches, alumni, sponsors, and fans.”
The association will make its decision for the next host city by December.
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