The CIAA basketball tournament offers fierce athletic competition, strong school loyalty, and the second largest fan experience in collegiate sports.
The impact of hosting this annual meeting of small historically black colleges and universities could be thought of by some as just a drop in the bucket. But ask Charlotte business leaders, and you’ll get another resounding opinion.
“Well you know, there’s a saying ‘nothing succeeds like success,’ and when you’ve had a great success like Charlotte has had with the CIAA, over the last several years, it speaks volumes to our ability to do other events and I’m sure that that had an impact on the decision makers at the DNC,” said Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx.
“Charlotte is well positioned to garner big events like the Democratic National Convention. It has the restaurants, the night life, the hotels, and one of the NBA’s newest arenas.. In a downtown setting, it has meant big success for the CIAA and a lot of dollars for Charlotte – something the commissioner doesn’t mind taking credit for,” Foxx added.
The CIAA has brought in more than 175-thousand basketball fans, students, alumni and fun-seekers in the five years since the tournament made Charlotte its home. For the 2010 affair, those numbers translated to an estimated total economic impact of more than 38-million dollars for Charlotte, 221 million for North Carolina over the past 12 years.
The Queen City is not cashing in by itself, local vendors are also making money. According the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the 2009 CIAA tournament generated over 25 million dollars in direct spending, about 760 dollars per person.
And while the money is too good for the tournament to turn away, why they keep coming back to Charlotte may also have something to do with good old Southern hospitality.
“Charlotte has a can-do spirit. What I mean by that is that they’ve embraced CIAA from the media standpoint, from the hotel standpoint, from the arena standpoint, they’ve done everything they could possibly to make it a success, to make the fans feel comfortable and successful here,” Foxx said.