Gearing Up: CIAA Fans Begin Celebration
Posted February 22, 2001
RALEIGH — Step shows, fashion shows, parties and basketball -- the CIAA Tournament is days away, but people are already gearing up.
The 56th annual tournament tips off Monday and lasts all week. Twelve colleges from Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina will compete, drawing about 30,000 fans.
Last year was the first year the event was held at the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena. Most fans say they like the new surroundings.
"This has been a magnificent experience," says fan LuAnn Edmonds. "I think the CIAA is pleased. I think the fans are pleased as well."
But basketball is not the star of the tournament -- almost half of the attendees do not even see a game. The event is as much a social function as it is a basketball tournament.
"A lot of it is bragging rights because a lot of the schools, especially here in North Carolina, are all close together," says student E.B. Bennett. "We see each other quite frequently, so bragging rights are on the line."
It is like a huge alumni gathering, with concerts, dances and fashion shows. People actually plan their vacations around the tournament.
Raleigh is more than happy to have them. The people who come to town will spend about $8.5 million during the week, which means more than $500,000 in tax revenue for the city.