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By Brittany Price, Special Correspondent

Charlotte is thankful this year to be hosting the CIAA Tournament again after almost losing the tournament stemming from North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2.

HB2 is the bill that was signed into law in 2016 and mandates people use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex on their birth certificate in public buildings, places and schools.

Speaking on the ESPN/ABC News podcast "Capital Games," North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he needs HB2 to be repealed by the end of February to prevent the state from being shut out from hosting NCAA championship events through 2022.

"They make the final decisions in April, but these committees start meeting before then,'' said Cooper, who was elected in November with HB2 as a major election issue. "They start analyzing these bids from various cities across the country. I've told [the legislature] that we need to do something by the end of this month. We need to take action by February because during March, these committees are going to be forming and meeting and talking.''

North Carolina has lost a number of championship events over the controversial bill, including the NBA All-Star Game, the ACC championship football game and the first and second rounds of this year’s NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Charlotte breathed a sigh of relief last year after the CIAA announced that the basketball tournament would stay in Charlotte. The CIAA released a statement stating that “relocation would not be in the best interest of the membership and its student-athletes at this time,” but did move eight of 10 championships out of the state, according to a CIAA news release.

The championship events that were relocated are the men’s and women’s cross country, football, the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and women’s tennis.

Per the Charlotte Observer, the CIAA was put in a complicated position. When the CIAA announced that they would renew their contract with Charlotte for six more years in 2014, the league also relocated its headquarters to Charlotte from Hampton, Va.

Furthermore, eight of the CIAA’s 12 member schools are in North Carolina.

The CIAA brought its tournament to Charlotte in 2006. Raleigh hosted it for six years and Winston-Salem for six years before that. Other hosts include Norfolk, Va., Greensboro, N.C., Richmond, Va., Hampton, Va., Durham, N.C., Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md.

Fred Whitfield, Charlotte Hornets' president and chief operating officer, told Ebony Magazine that he would like to see the tournament make a permanent home in the Queen City.

“We love hosting the CIAA Tournament,” Whitfield said. “And as a former ball boy of the CIAA Tournament in Greensboro, to be able to host it in Time Warner Cable Arena (now the Spectrum Center), to be able to have all the great fans, and commissioner Jacqie McWilliams and the great job they do, it’s just an honor and a privilege to open our doors and make everyone feel at home and make everyone realize how important they are to our community and how much we appreciate them selecting Charlotte to be the home for their crown jewel.”2017 ciaatrn logo

According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors’ Authority (CRVA) CEO, Tom Murray, the CIAA is the city’s largest convention on an annual basis and is the largest monetary event in Charlotte annually. The tournament brings in $55 million and 150,000 visitors who watch basketball and party, filling up clubs and hotels. Annually, $125,000 in scholarship money is awarded to each of the league’s 12 schools.

Over the past 11 years, Charlotte has made $325 million in economic impact from the event. Hotels typically sell out fast for CIAA week for at least 40-50 miles outside of Charlotte. This year, hotel reservations have a $212 non-refundable deposit, with a three-night minimum stay requirement on all bookings.

But the CIAA has also benefitted from this partnership. In Charlotte, the CIAA has maintained a 90% sponsor retention rate and has secured over $20 million in scholarship dollars for its league’s institutions. 

Charlotte has also been very accommodating in assisting the CIAA in cutting costs. This year, the CIAA splits up the tournament into two locations, the Bojangles’ Coliseum and the Spectrum Center.

“Our board has been concerned about reducing expenses,” CIAA Commissioner McWilliams told the Charlotte Observer. “And Charlotte is willing to oblige, in hopes that the tourney will stay in the city past 2017."

~ Brittany Price is a junior Public Relations major at N. C. A&T State University.


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