RALEIGH, N.C. — For five years now,
teams have played their annual tournament in Raleigh's arena. Now, the city is competing with Charlotte to see which one will host the event through 2008.
CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry toured Charlotte Thursday to see what the city offers. The city has hotels and dining areas in a 4-block radius and a downtown arena will soon be built.
"[It's been] an ongoing day of events, Q and A as well as to get a feel for the arena in its current construction state, to get a feel for the area restaurants and hotels that are in and around the area," said Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon.
"Charlotte did the right thing and concentrated their sports facility in their downtown," said Margaret Mullen, of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
Many boosters wanted Raleigh's arena downtown. Mullen said Raleigh has an uphill battle.
"It's still going to be a tough sell when your competition has all of that concentrated in one area," Mullen said. "It is significantly cheaper for the CIAA or anybody when you don't have to put people back on the bus and shuttle them to a different destination."
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said he is cautiously optimistic that the tournament will stay in Raleigh.
"We've made a very strong and competitive bid that involves a substantial amount of scholarship money as well as other inducements. It's about what we can do and make this thing work economically," Meeker said.
Next Monday, Kerry will visit Raleigh to ask a few more questions. Kerry does not have a vote in the process of selecting the host city, but he does have influence.
The presidents of each of the CIAA schools are scheduled to meet by conference call in the next few weeks to make a decision.