• Rev. Billy Graham's funeral, CIAA to bring thousands to Charlotte

    By: Joe Bruno

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Rev. Billy Graham's funeral on March 2 will be attended by presidents and dignitaries, at the same time as the CIAA basketball tournament, which brings in thousands of people and millions of dollars. will be hosted in the heart of Charlotte.

    Security concerns come with two major events taking the city by storm.

    [RELATED: Security to be increased as thousands expected for Rev. Graham funeral]

    City leaders and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officials said they plan to balance safety at both events.

    Graham’s funeral at the Billy Graham Library will be just a couple miles from uptown Charlotte where the CIAA tournament will be played.

    Police told Channel 9 they are ready.

    “We have been planning for this for over a decade. We knew this day would come,”  CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said of Graham’s death.

    Police couldn't have predicted Graham’s funeral would happen during one of Charlotte's busiest weeks of the year, when the CIAA is in town.

    At this point, police do not believe they will need any outside help.

    "It's not as complicated because of the site,” Putney said. “It's off Billy Graham Parkway, which helps us, so you have two different areas. It's not really going to impact stuff that's going on for the CIAA.”

    The events will bring thousands of visitors, from hip hop stars to world leaders.

    While security won't be hard to spot, finding a hotel room might.

    “Right now, we are close to 60 percent occupancy,” CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams. “We are hoping the city will once again be sold out.”

    Sponsors and teams already have their hotels booked.

    McWilliams thinks both major events can run smoothly, and CIAA will take the time to honor the life and legacy of Billy Graham.

    “The great thing is because Charlotte is such a community, we will be able to celebrate that and we will be able to celebrate CIAA being in this community,” McWilliams said.

     

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