RALEIGH, N.C. — Between the tailgating, the street party and the football game, the Aggie-Eagle classic has been a big hit in Raleigh for 10 years. Now, the challenge is to keep the game in the city.
Assistant City Manager Lawrence Wray helps run the Classic and the CIAA basketball tournament which has been in Raleigh since 2000. Wray said both have a big economic impact -- $2.5 million from the Aggie/Eagle Classic last year and $11.5 million from the CIAA Tournament in February.
"When you come to Raleigh, we always try to make it better and bigger and we've done that with the CIAA," Wray said.
However, success comes at a price. Charlotte tried to steal the Aggie/Eagle Classic two years ago. Raleigh's contract is up next year, and competition may be fierce.
"There have been indications that other cities might be interested in hosting this classic, but right now, we have a great relationship with the Capital Area Sports Foundation and the city of Raleigh," said James Ammons, chancellor of North Carolina Central University.
Raleigh's CIAA tournament contract is also up next year. Raleigh is expected to compete with Atlanta, Washington D.C., Charlotte, and Tampa. Wray describes the city's chances as OK.
"You don't want to be too confident because we don't have a whole bunch of money to guarantee the event," he said.
The CIAA wants more than $900,000 in scholarship money from the host city compared to $600,000 this past year.
"We're going to try to make it if we can, but you just don't pick that money up off the street," Wray said.
Raleigh will hit the streets hard after hiring a professional fund-raising company for the first time to raise money for a big-time event. CIAA basketball tournament bids are due at the end of September. The contract goes from 2006 to 2008.