CIAA Releases Impact Numbers

Estimated economic benefit from staging the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament dipped this year by $10 million, or 17%, according to figures released by the conference Monday afternoon.

The men’s and women’s basketball tournament generated $47.4 million and brought in an estimated 103,000 to 138,000 visitors, the CIAA said. In 2016, the tournament added $57.4 million worth of spending and spin-off benefits to the local economy and $31.5 million in direct spending on meals, hotel rooms and other expenses. Direct spending for 2017 was $27 million, or 14% below the previous year.

Economic impact for this year was the fourth-highest since the CIAA tournament came to Charlotte in 2006, according to the conference. Local government and agencies contribute $2 million annually to the CIAA tournament through scholarship donations, use of city-owned venues and other in-kind donations.

The CIAA split between venues for the first time in 2017, playing the first part of the tournament at 8,600-seat Bojangles’ Coliseum and ending in the 19,000-seat Spectrum Center. No other annual tourism event in Charlotte has a larger impact than the CIAA, executives at the visitors authority have said.

Next year, the tournament runs Feb. 27 through March 3. The conference, comprised of 12 historically black colleges and universities, including Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, is under contract with the city to play the tournament here through 2020.

City Council is examining how to increase attendance and also exploring whether and how to cordon off larger areas of uptown for CIAA-sanctioned events while making changes to permit policies for pop-up events. The latter discussion stems from concerns over shootings and altercations each of the past four years during tournament week. In each case, the incidents occurred near CIAA sites, but not at conference-sanctioned events.

Some on council asked CIAA and tourism executives after the 2017 event to consider putting the week-long tournament at Spectrum Center, the NBA area uptown, and scrapping the games at Bojangles’, the format used from 2006 through 2016. Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, told the city economic development committee the current split arrangement is better because it saves money — the NBA arena costs more to operate — and because it gives the NBA Charlotte Hornets greater schedule flexibility.

Erik Spanberg
Charlotte Business Journal

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