|Charlotte in limbo as CIAA host|
|League will seek competition for tournament|
|Published Monday, February 24, 2014 11:00 am|
Charlotte will need to step up its game to keep the CIAA basketball tournament beyond 2014.
The tournament, which tips off Tuesday at Time Warner Cable Arena, is the finale under the current contract between the city and CIAA, capping a record nine-year run. Bids for a new host – which had been promised since October – will be sent soon, CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter told WCCB (channel 18) Monday.
“Right now, we’re in the process of doing the bid,” Carpenter said. “We’re hoping that whatever package is presented for the CIAA tournament, whether it’s Charlotte, it’s the best package that provides the best experience for our student athletes, our fans. We have a comprehensive package for lodging, the building, the arena, the financial structure is a win-win for all of us.”
Since becoming commissioner last year, Carpenter has maintained the league of 12 NCAA Division II colleges stretching from North Carolina to Pennsylvania will demand a greater payout than the $1 million in Charlotte’s contract. City officials lobbied the CIAA for an exclusive negotiating period to hammer out a contract extension last year, but were turned down. Instead, the league will continue its traditional open bid process. CIAA week, which Charlotte tourism officials estimate draws nearly 190,000 people to the region annually and pumps more than $40 million into the local economy.
“Charlotte’s been great,” Carpenter told WCCB. “The tournament grown fast since it started here back in 2004. The tournament just grew and so we need to reset and make sure that whatever we’re doing that it’s in the best interest of both parties, including financial.”
The list of potential suitors is long. Raleigh, which hosted the CIAA before losing it to Charlotte, is believed to be interested, as is Greensboro. Washington, D.C., site of the first CIAA tournament in 1947, has been mentioned as a possible suitor along with Philadelphia and Queens, N.Y. Atlanta has also been rumored, but sources familiar with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told The Post officials there aren't actively pursuing a bid.
“Right now, we don’t know where Charlotte stacks up in that list,” Carpenter said. “We’re going to send out the bid to several cities, some that we’ve heard from, some that we haven’t that we believe may have an interest. We’ve heard from Greensboro in the past; Raleigh-Durham has hosted before. Of course, Charlotte.”
Timing is also important in determining a new host. In cities with major league hockey or basketball franchises, scheduling must be coordinated through those teams, their arenas as well as National Hockey League or National Basketball Association. There’s also the task of making hotel space available to fans from across the country.
“We understand the timing of the bid, but again in the last 18 months we’ve tried very hard to make sure that we put together a comprehensive package,” Carpenter said. “We understand what that bid looks like. It’s very different than it was in 2004, just based on the needs and the growth of the championship.”
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