|CIAA host up for grabs|
|For many fans, it’s Charlotte or bust|
|Published Thursday, March 7, 2013 8:03 am|
Charlotte has played host to the CIAA tournament for eight consecutive years, longer than any other city in the league’s history.
It will return next year, but whether or not it will be back for 2015 is anybody’s guess.
CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter told The Post in an interview she is unsure where the tournament will go after its current contract with Charlotte ends in 2014.
“It could be Charlotte; it could be somewhere else,” she said. “We don’t know who’s going to bid.”
The bidding process is expected to begin sometime in early spring.
“Charlotte has been a great partner of ours,” Carpenter said. “I’m sure they’d love us to stay here, and I don’t want to commit to say we’re going to stay here.”
Fans will likely have to wait until late summer to find out where the tournament will go next, but many say they want it to stay put.
Andrea R. Brown said the tournament should stay in North Carolina because the state is home to 10 historically black colleges, many of them CIAA members.
“That speaks volumes,” she said. “It definitely needs to be in North Carolina.”
Brown said Charlotte is the ideal location for the tournament because of its reputation for being people-friendly. Plus, she said it’s a bonus that the arena, hotels, venues and other amenities are located Uptown where the games are played at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“I will definitely miss the tournament if it decides to leave Charlotte,” she said, adding that if CIAA chose to relocate in 2015 she would not likely travel to attend.
“It would be an awful decision to leave,” said Sandra Jones, who has attended the tournament for the last 25 years. “They need to keep it here in Charlotte. It’s been a great place. I’ve been impressed with the hospitality.”
This year Jones traveled about 3 1/2 hours from Tarboro, N.C., and while she said she would be disappointed if the tournament left Charlotte, she would be willing to travel to attend in another city.
Jimmie Dowell, a Johnson C. Smith University student, attended CIAA for the first time this year. The Charlotte native said he would be disappointed if the tournament went elsewhere.
“It would be a big blow to the economy,” he said. “It would also be a disappointment for the sports fans.”
Dowell is not the only one concerned with the financial impact of CIAA leaving town. Some vendors are concerned as well.
Georgia artist Sidney Carter has been a tournament vendor for the past decade. He said the eight years the tournament has been in town have been good for business, and relocating will likely cause a decline in sales, at least temporarily.
“It’s always going to be a difference, “ he said. “Sales might slack off for a minute, but then it picks up when people get to know you and you build your clientele. It gets better after you build friendships. People get to know you and come support you every year.”
Whether it stays or goes, Carter plans to continue being a vendor.
“But why fix it if it’s not broken?” he asked. “Charlotte is great.”
Aaron Reid of Atlanta has been a CIAA vendor since 2007. He agreed the longevity in one city is good for building business.
“I hope that it stays here because people feel comfortable, and they know that we are here,” he said. “But if it moves, I ‘m going to be right there with it.”
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