CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Officials announced Tuesday at the Bojangles' Coliseum that a new basketball tournament is heading to Charlotte.
The Big South Conference will come to Charlotte in March 2021, said officials with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
The 11-team conference includes schools like Gardner-Webb, Campbell University and Winthrop.
The Bojangles' Coliseum is the league’s first neutral site for its basketball events since 2003 and the fifth time in the conference’s 36-year history.
Last season, it was at Radford University in Virginia.
“What made Charlotte really attractive is No. 1, it’s a world-class destination,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander in a news release. “Charlotte is centrally located in our footprint so travel is manageable for Big South fans and there are fantastic hotels, shopping and entertainment options. The city’s growth is incredible, and the leadership in the Queen City has really embraced the Big South. With this kind of support, we feel confident that our partnership will result in an outstanding championship. What a great showcase this will be for tremendous Big South Basketball!”
Charlotte was part of a group of finalists, which included Winston-Salem and Hampton, Virginia.
“For me, success is defined as people coming to the games,” Kallander said. “Attendance and butts in the seats, as it were, and we feel like Charlotte is a place people want to come. All our fans want to come to Charlotte and really be a part of what's happening.”
Since 2016, Big South men’s and women’s basketball tournament games have been held at either a pre-determined campus site or on the home court of the highest seeds.
The tournament is tentatively scheduled for March 2-7, 2021.
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There will also be cheerleading competitions, fan festivals and possibly concerts or eSports events, officials said.
“We’re hoping the whole week of competition provides a homecoming-type atmosphere where alumni clubs, boosters, fans and students all have a chance to mingle and network and enjoy Charlotte,” said Longwood University President W. Taylor Reveley IV, chair of the Big South CEOs.
Both the CIAA and the Big South are headquartered in Charlotte and the CIAA basketball tournament dominated in Charlotte for 15 years.
The city will host its final CIAA tournament in February after the contract expired. At the time, city council members said the move was a tough loss because the 2018 tournament had an impact of more than $50 million on Charlotte's economy.
“So, we'll work really hard with them to try to figure out the types of things we can do during the tournament to make sure people want to come and visit, and stay in hotels and eat in our restaurants,” CRVA CEO Tom Murray said.
The official 2021 Big South Championship tournament formats, plus ticket packages, events and television arrangements, will be announced at a later date when finalized.
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