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MEAC, Raleigh Leaders Hope to Expand Impact of Tournament

Posted March 7, 2007

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— The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference is establishing its geographical footprint in the Triangle, and it's leaving quite an impression on some fans.

“I've enjoyed being in Raleigh,” said MEAC fan Jewel Long. “I enjoy the change in venue.”

“So far, so good,” said MEAC fan Cliffton Wood. “I say thumbs up to Raleigh.”

Instead of trying to sell the tournament to the general public, tournament organizers took a more focused approach this year to growing attendance numbers.

“We really put more emphasis on marketing to our institutions and alumni, all within a 150 radius of Wake County and the city of Raleigh,” said MEAC commissioner Dr. Dennis Thomas.

Thomas said the tournament attracted about 23,000 fans during the five-day tournament in 2006.

Tournament and city leaders want to expand the boundaries of the MEAC beyond the RBC Center. They hope the traffic generated there will spill out onto restaurant and entertainment destinations like Glenwood South and Fayetteville Street, which will help out businesses banking on a bump in their own bottom line.

Yancy's on Fayetteville Street, for one, has already started to see its share of the MEAC clientele.

“The coach, the basketball team, assistant coaches, everybody was in here,” said Yancy’s owner Harvey Yancy.

The city is in the second year of a three-year contract as host city of the MEAC. For its part, city leaders said they are looking for a bigger payday. Based on conference figures, the tournament brought in $3 million last year. This year's economic target is set at $5 million.

“In three or four years, it may be twice that much,” said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. “This has the potential to be a big-time tournament and it takes a few years to grow it, but we're well underway.”

The MEAC is expanding this summer. Winston-Salem State, formerly of the CIAA, is slated to join the conference in July.

13 Comments

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  • Doctor Dataclerk Mar 8, 2007

    It is not about hating anything or anyone. Why use a large venue like the RBC Center for something that attracts a very few thousand people at the most. I wouldn't expect a cut-rate deal on renting Madison Square Gardens to hold a kid's t-ball tournament in. The millions promised by this and the CIAA don't exist, the hosting is politically motivated and taxpayer paid.

  • IceCreamMan Mar 8, 2007

    Yes, I knew a LOT of people who were thrilled to see the CIAA tourney leave town. It brought a lot of tourists into town, but it certainly didn't make for a good week in Raleigh.

  • narck9 Mar 8, 2007

    Pilot. We understand what you are saying. If it doesn't produce, don't use our tax money to support it. That goes for any event that comes here. If the Hurricanes didn't produce I wouldn't want my taxes going to it either.

  • narck9 Mar 8, 2007

    "ALL the haters below, become BUSINESS Owner(s) and let me see if you feel the same way about these functions".

    I felt sorry for the business owners when the CIAA rolled around. I spoke with a GM of a large hotel in the area and he told me that every room in the hotel was trashed after the people checked out. The beds were turned upside down, there were holes in the wall and the bathrooms were destroyed. I also spoke with several gas station attendants who said they had record numbers in gas drive offs. So in response to the comment, I am glad that I was not a business owner during that time and I was glad to see the tournament go.

  • Pilot Mar 8, 2007

    Why does it always have to be 'haters'. I asked a question, who is paying? Because, it cannot be paying for itself. And, by the way, how do you know I am not a "busniness owner"? Why not take that chip on your shoulder and go to the games?

  • Classie2222 Mar 8, 2007

    I loved the CIAA and will support the MEAC just as I due the ACC tournament. These are positive things that have come to our community and I and many more do as well. The Carolina Hurricanes started out slow, but look at them now! ALL the haters below, become BUSINESS Owner(s) and let me see if you feel the same way about these functions. OR during this time of the year travel with the ACC and get away. Be Blessed!

  • DLG Mar 8, 2007

    I happened to hated to see the CIAA go, and loved the history the CIAA provided for all African Americans who went to those schools. To make a comment on the violence that follows is very insulting since the ACC also has rudeness and destruction of property in their wake. If you don't like the MEAC or the CIAA, then don't go to the games and keep your negative comments to yourself.

  • happilychildfree Mar 8, 2007

    I hear ya' Pilot! It is also a TON of wasted air time to cover something that who knows how much tax money was used to attract. However, I felt the same way about tax dollars for the CIAA too. If the tournaments come... fine... but I don't see why taxes should pay for it unless we get more back from impact than we put in (impossible to track). It also stands to reason that maybe... just maybe... there should be a local school in it? Especially since it can't stand on it's own like the ACC can. The MEAC should be in Greensboro.

  • narck9 Mar 8, 2007

    I am so glad that there are people that share my same thoughts about this tournament. I thought we had a good thing going when the CIAA went to Charlotte. Now we have another one to send there.

  • Pilot Mar 8, 2007

    Who is paying for the use of the RBC and all those empty seats? I cannot see how this tournament will ever turn a profit. I keep seeings figures about "bringing in" millions, but from WHAT? There are no fans in attendance. I hope taxpayers dollars are not being spent (AGAIN) to prop us this fiasco.

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