CIAA tournament reaches 6-year deal with Charlotte

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

After a week of doubt, speculation and behind-the-scenes negotiations, Charlotte comes out on top with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament.
 
Not only is the city getting six more years of the tournament, but it is becoming the new home to the conference headquarters, which is based in Hampton, Va.

On Monday city leaders are not the only ones smiling.

CIAA Commissioner Jacquie Carpenter said Charlotte has embraced her tournament.

“We think it makes great sense as we work to bring this tournament to the next level,” Carpenter said.

The financially struggling group has been looking for more financial support, and it got it.

Charlotte promised to up its funding from $1 million to $1.4 million a year to support the 12 conference colleges and universities.
 
In return: the $47 million economic impact the tournament brings each year.

“Over the next six years it will become ingrained into our culture, part of what makes Charlotte very unique,” said Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon.

Gov. Pat McCrory helped recruit the tournament 10 years ago when he was mayor of Charlotte.

In town for a tourism conference Monday, McCrory said it was worth fighting for.

“There’s no doubt that was one of the great sporting recruitments for Charlotte. I think it’s had a bigger impact than most conventions,” McCrory said.

Its impact is felt at places like Mert's Heart and Soul restaurant.

It sees higher sales but said it’s more than that.

“We love the culture and the atmosphere. When you bring CIAA it embraces the African-American community,” said a Mert's representative.

Anita Wiggins agrees but has one hope -- that in the future, fan focus will shift back to what's important.

“Only if they support all the students and not so much all of the partying,” Wiggins said.

The commissioner said moving their headquarters to Charlotte will make it easier to plan future tournaments, have higher visibility and help land bigger sponsors.