|Face it: Charlotte's outgrown the CIAA basketball tournament|
|League is right to go small with Baltimore|
|Published Sunday, January 13, 2019 11:12 am|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|The CIAA basketball tournament is opting for a new host in Baltimore, and a smaller venue in Royal Farms Arena.|
Since Monday, my newsfeeds have been filled with talk of the CIAA leaving Charlotte for Baltimore in 2021.
Although some voices within the conference have talked about shopping the tournament around for a better deal for the conference and the fans, a city would have to go deep within its infrastructure to top what Charlotte has to offer. It’s quick to think that, with nine of the 13 member schools in the Carolinas, Charlotte had an edge.
By Tuesday’s official announcement, the finger-pointing had started. Everyone from the CRVA to the Charlotte Hornets had been blamed for the loss. There were talks that the Charlotte bid was nowhere near what it should have been to keep the tournament in the city. So what did Baltimore offer up that would get a 13-school conference, with only four members in or near Maryland, to have its tournament at Inner Harbor? For the Charlotte bid to be bad, you would have to take a look at the winning bid and see what could have been done differently.
The only thing missing from Baltimore’s bidding process was Bob Johnson flying the commissioner and search committee into town on his private jet and it would have sounded like Charlotte’s pitch 13 years ago. If you compared the bidding process to dating, Baltimore was like a first date. After flirting with the idea of coming to Baltimore during the CIAA track and field championships at Bowie State University, Baltimore’s bid was like a first date, pulling out all the stops in order to make a great first impression. Charlotte was a 13th anniversary: both parties familiar with each other, with no significant date (20th year, 15th year) to observe.
Both bids are very similar, according to the Baltimore Business Journal, but Baltimore has that newness that the conference hopes will increase attendance. And while the streets of
Charlotte is filled with fans heading to non-CIAA events. Game attendance has been going down, especially when non-official events are taking place during the games. Slow game attendance could be another reason Baltimore makes the logical choice. Even with the curtains around parts of the upper deck, Spectrum Center still seemed to swallow up the crowd. Royal Farms Arena is much smaller. It’s slightly larger than Bojangles’ Coliseum, which is being used for early tournament rounds. Bojangles’ is actually a nice place for the tournament, with its own parking the city could have included as part of the deal. It also is more intimate than Spectrum Center for the number of fans that attend the games. Moving to Baltimore allows the conference to save face in a move to a smaller arena without saying they need to move to a smaller arena.
Baltimore has also offered to police the use of the CIAA brand that has been misused for years. Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams made attempts to police the usage her first year on the job, but earlier years of not policing it has made it huge mountain to climb. While tournament week brings millions of dollars into an area, most of that money will never go to the CIAA. That’s a nice perk to get from a city. Instead of the conference’s legal team tracking down promoters and vendors, the city will do it for them.
While the move to Baltimore is a financial loss for Charlotte, it might be a sign that Charlotte has outgrown the tournament. Fans have always complained about high prices for parking and hotel rooms in Charlotte. Board Chair and Fayetteville State University President James Anderson went as far as to say there was price gouging among some Charlotte hotels. With so many big events from NASCAR to the ACC, it would be easy to see if the prices to CIAA fans were much higher than any other visiting group. Some CIAA fans who have wanted a move from Charlotte have suggested Washington or Atlanta as possible host cities. Those cities would never lower room rates to the below $200 a night that the conference had in its host requirement and neither city made an attempt to get the tournament. Luckily, Baltimore has lost several major conventions and the city has control of several hotels that can get cheaper rates.
Maybe even the CIAA realizes Charlotte is too large. The conference just recently exed its football championship contract with Salem, Virginia. Let’s pause for a minute and use Google maps to find Salem. In fact, many of the conference championships are there.
You would think with nine out of the 13 schools in the Carolinas, North Carolina would be a shoe-in for many of the conference championships, but basketball and indoor track are the only ones in North Carolina. We have the facilities in Charlotte - Memorial Stadium for football or Bojangles’ for volleyball and of course, basketball.
Troy Hull of Charlotte is a freelance photographer whose work has appeared in several media, including The Post.
I?ve got an off the record question regarding HBCU Hoops.
|Posted on July 6, 2019|
|Charlotte power structure did not appreciate the CIAA being here, raising prices, trolling, arresting educated professionals. Please- I am glad that they have left, the dumb asses can watch that professional MONEY go up I-85/I-95|
|Posted on January 22, 2019|
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