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By Tishawna Williams, Special Correspondent

CIAA Tournament fans are preparing for their own competition -- the game of parking.

The men's and women's tournament will begin on Tuesday, February 21-22 at Bojangles’ Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd and home of the Charlotte Checkers ics hockey team.2017 ciaatrn logo

The rest of the tournament is February 23-25 at Spectrum Center, 333 E. Trade Street, home of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets.

Parking at Bojangles’ is $8 per vehicle.  The parking lots will be open two hours before the first game at 10:00 a.m. The entrance is located off of Briar Creek Rd. Cash, credit, and debit cards are the accepted forms of payment.

Due to the number of people who will be attending, spaces are limited. It is advised to get there early to secure your spot.  If you do not want to park near the coliseum, there are other places to secure your vehicle.

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) Blue Line Stations will be providing addition complimentary parking and a shuttle service for tournament fans.  Patrons will need to purchase LYNX Blue Line Ticket in order to board the shuttle. The shuttle will depart across from the Epicenter in uptown Charlotte and disembark at the Convention Center Station, located on 3rd street. According to Blue Line shuttle driver Karen Reese there will be a shuttle every half hour.

“There are trying to have a shuttle running every thirty minutes. There will be seats for the handicapped, however, they are very limited. I advise drivers to be looking for spots around uptown.” The Spectrum Center, formally known as the Time Warner Cable Arena, is in the heart of uptown Charlotte. Traffic can be hectic downtown, so be cautious of where you decide to park your vehicle.

Uptown Charlotte is full of parking areas for the public. However, depending on where you decide to park your vehicle, it can be pricey.  There are meters, parking decks, and parking lots ranging from free to $20.

The First Ward is located east of 7th street and south of Caldwell Street. This is considered the “wonderland” of free parking.  There are ample free parking spots in the First Ward and also parking meters.  Most of the free street parking spots run along Caldwell, East 8th Street, East 9th Street and throughout the Garden District.

Parking spots on in the Third Ward are very slim, due to it being the home of the BB&T Ballpark and Bank of America Stadium, most of these parking spots come with a fee. There are a few streets with free parking in residential areas; however, most of these streets require a parking permit.

Fourth Ward is one of the most popular parking streets in uptown Charlotte. Located off of North Poplar Road and just two blocks from Tryon Street.  Be advised that these free spaces are two-hour parking only. Be aware that some events rescind free parking and will require a permit. If that is the case, there will be signs reminding you all throughout uptown.

Event parking during the CIAA will be more expensive than the games. According to Devon Murray, strip clubs will be charging no less than $80 for spots.

“My friends and I tried to go to a club after one of the games and quickly turned around once they told us the price for parking. They were talking about $60 for rear spots and $80 for front spots and that was just the early prices.” The prices to park during club events, usually range from $20 to $80. To avoid those prices, find a free secure spot for your vehicle and call an Uber to your preferred event.

Be reminded that there will be strict towing regulations. Parking is available in surrounding lots by the Charlotte Convention Center, located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Additional parking is available at CATS station. For additional Parking locations and to purchase parking passes, please visit http://www.charlottecentercity.org/transportation/parking/

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