The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association has announced its search for a new host city of its annual men’s and women’s basketball tournaments after its current agreement with the City of Charlotte expires in 2020.
The announcement may signal the end of a 14-year partnership which made the CIAA tournament one of the largest in all of college basketball, but drew questions about revenues for the conference’s member schools and return on investment for sponsoring partners.
Conference officials say that the winning host city will secure the tournament for a three-year agreement beginning in 2021. The bidding process will be managed by the tournament sub-committee of the conference’s board of directors.
“The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) and the city of Charlotte have been a great host for the CIAA Basketball Tournament. Over the past 13 years both the CIAA tournament and Charlotte have grown and benefitted from the relationship,” said CIAA Board Chair and Fayetteville State University President Dr. James A. Anderson. “The Board believes it makes good business sense to re-evaluate the location and amenities for the future of the tournament. Being mindful of the footprint of the CIAA institutions in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and now South Carolina, it’s important to review all possible/potential locations to identify what’s best for our student-athletes, alumni, and fans.”
The CIAA will solicit bids for hosting rights through September, and in a release, placed emphasis on a city’s capacity to provide competitive hotel rates for a minimum of 6,000 rooms, insulation from unaffiliated events and parties with CIAA branding, and the ability to provide scholarship funding to the conference’s 13 member institutions.
Prospective cities must also detail arena capacity for at least 8,000-10,000 fans.
“The selection of the future CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament site is in alignment with site selections for all CIAA championships. The conference’s Board sees this as a great opportunity to open the tournament experience to other markets and to forge new alliances,” said Jacqie McWilliams, CIAA Commissioner. “Charlotte has been a great home for us and we look forward to continuing our partnership. Our future includes writing a new chapter in our tournament’s history, with a goal of creating exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our student-athletes, coaches, alumni, sponsors, and fans.”
This year’s tournament create an economic impact of $50.5 million for Charlotte, and averaged more than $50 million since 2013. According to officials, the tournaments have generated more than $650 million in economic impact and an average of $500 million in the state of North Carolina.
But questions about profitability for member schools have long marred the event’s success in generating revenue for the conference. Since 2015, the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and Mecklenburg County have combined to provide just $8 million to the conference, an average of $2 million per year which equals just under $154,000 per school.