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CIAA Bidding War Continues

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RALEIGH, N.C. — As Raleigh's mayor works on an offer that could keep the CIAA basketball tournament in the Triangle through 2008, there are new questions about what exactly is at stake and who is really paying for it.

When talking basketball, the CIAA is a fan's hoop dream. When you are talking money, it is not an easy score to keep.

Here is how the city looks at it: The fans who bought 100,000 tickets pump an estimated $11.5 million into the Triangle's economy. All the city has to do is pay out $340,000 in scholarship money.

Now, the CIAA is asking for nearly double the scholarship money.

"It's a great tournament. We really enjoy it and we've had a great sponsorship support. What we're going to try to do is increase that support so the amount of public support is very limited," Meeker said.

The problem is the city pays out the scholarship money up front and then tries to pay for it through sponsors.

While Raleigh fights to keep the tournament from going to Charlotte, some city leaders acknowledge that the tournament has not brought in enough sponsors to help pay for the event -- adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that the city has had to make up the difference for. That money comes from taxpayers.

City councilman Philip Isley supports the tournament, but admits it has been a money-losing venture for the city since it came to Raleigh.

What about the $11.5 million boost to the economy? Wake County commissioner Phil Jeffreys has doubts about whether that is really accurate.

"I just don't think right now that we have it. I don't think that we can say we're accurate on any event that comes in," he said.

Meeker says he will talk with city and county leaders and submit an amended bid next Monday. The CIAA could make a decision as early as mid December.


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