Raleigh Hopes To Keep CIAA Tournament In Town
Posted February 28, 2003 1:07 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — The CIAA Tournament will call Raleigh home for the next two years, but there is already talk of other cities like Charlotte with plans to lure the tournament away.
Raleigh's numbers score big with CIAA fans. Since the tournament moved to Raleigh in 2000, officials say it has been profitable with near sell-out crowds. Plus, attendance is up more than 70 percent.
"I think people don't want to travel too far. It becomes a little more expensive for them," assistant Raleigh City Manager Lawrence Wray said. "They have to take a little bit more time off, so I think that we have the advantage as it relates to distance, and I think this arena has served them very well."
When the CIAA contract comes up in a couple of years, Charlotte will tout a new arena, along with its much talked-about nightlife. It is also an untapped market and a shorter drive for Livingstone athletic director Clifton Huff.
"The CIAA has not been there, so this is going to be like honey to them. Anytime you get something brand-new, a brand-new shining penny, a lot of people will come out to see if they can make it shine," he said.
Some fans said they are not ready to crown the Queen City with the tournament.
"My vote's for Raleigh," resident Roberta Norfleet said. "It's not too far that I won't go, but it's more convenient in the Triangle."
CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry said having two major North Carolina cities jockey for the tournament is actually a win/win proposition. He said, either way, the tournament benefits and the state wins.