CIAA basketball tournament begins weeks after announcement it will move in two years
The tournament will move to Baltimore in 2021
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The 2019 CIAA basketball tournament will kick off Monday night as Johnson C. Smith University takes on Chowan University at the Bojangles Coliseum. However, this year it was announced the tournament will move in two years to Baltimore.
Monday marked the 14th year that Charlotte has hosted the tournament, however, the Queen City lost their bid to keep the tournament through 2023.
“The good would be that people would say, ‘Oh, my gosh, we only have two more years in Charlotte, we need to go.’ The bad would be that most of our schools are in this North Carolina corridor so we may lose some fans that don’t want to go to the Northeast,” said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “I think Charlotte has helped us create a template for what we need and what we look for.”
The tournament also comes less than two weeks after the NBA-All Star Game rolled into town.
“We may have lost some fans that came to All-Star and can’t come to this, but I don’t think we know that. I think the numbers will show that later,” said McWilliams.
Thousands of fans will come to town to cheer on their teams and attend a number of events including FanFest and education days.
“Branding is important. How do we protect the brand? How do we promote ourselves in a way that everyone benefits?,” said McWilliams.
According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the tournament brought in nearly $51 million in revenue last year, including creating hundreds of part-time jobs.
“Clearly everyone is disappointed that there will be a few years without the tournament,” said Tom Murray the CEO of the CRVA. “I look at today, this week, and next year as our second bid process.”
The city has said it will attempt to bid again for the tournament at the end of 2023.
“We really feel like we are on our game and we are performing the best we ever had,” said Murray. “We continue to focus on the student-athlete and I think that is where we continue to look the best if we remain focused on that.”
The CIAA board has made it clear that hotel prices and venue are two key aspects they look at when selecting a city. Several of the games used to be played at the Spectrum, now all the games are played at Bojangles Coliseum.
“We want to continue to identify the best venue for the tournament, whether it is for part of the week or the whole week,” said McWilliams.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will also be busy this week.
“We try and get our people some down time. So, after the NBA All-star week, we push our people out, give them their days off,” said Chief Kerr Putney.
Chief Putney says the CIAA has been a great partner and the sanctioned events hardly have any issues.
“We have between 12-15 for this year. We never have issues. Ever,” said Chief Putney. “We have well over 100 unsanctioned events and we have people come in, some promoters are not very scrupulous. They take advantage of people in the city. It is not a problem other than that it does not allow us to get a plan and keep security as the main priority.”
Last year, there were no significant issues at sanctioned CIAA events.
“It felt good to come off the tournament and not focus on something negative that had nothing to do with the CIAA. We got to focus on the great impact,” said McWilliams.
Up next, Charlotte will play host to some of the ACC Championship games.
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