Local News

Raleigh Loses Bid To Keep CIAA Tournament After 2005

Posted Updated

RALEIGH, N.C. — CIAA officials announced Tuesday that the 2006-08 basketball tournaments will be held in Charlotte. The Queen City was involved in a battle with Raleigh, which had hosted the tournament since the 1999-2000 season.

Raleigh officials initially offered $700,000 in scholarships and later increased that to $1 million. At first, the city offered 40 luxury suites at the RBC center, then increased it to 42. They also offered a cash package of $1.4 million to keep the tournament in the city, which was nearly twice as much as the city's 2003 bid.

"Dollar for dollar in terms of resources and advantages, the packages were pretty competitive," said Dianne Boardley Suber, of St. Augustine College.

"I knew it was very close. I was optimistic that we were going to get a favorable decision," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker. "I wouldn't say I was surprised. I work in a business where you don't know what the jury is going to decide from time to time."

Charlotte's proposal included the use of a new downtown arena close to hotels, restaurants and entertainment, which Suber said may have been a factor.

"I do think the allure of the CIAA village, the concept of everything being right there may have swayed the thinking of some of the presidents and chancellors around the table," Suber said.

Critics argued that Raleigh's RBC Center was a little isolated from hotels and restaurants, but Meeker said he did not believe that was a factor.

"The RBC Center is a major positive for us. It is well-designed for this kind of tournament. Parking is right there adjacent to it. It is not a situation where it is in an urban setting and you have to walk several blocks. It's right there."

This year's games brought in 90,000 fans and pumped more than $11 million into Raleigh's economy. The tournament will be played in Raleigh in 2005 before moving to Charlotte.

The decision was reached via secret ballot submission to the CIAA's accounting firm, which tabulated and certified the votes. Each school representative was allotted a single vote. The vote split was not made public.

"We have enjoyed tremendous growth in Raleigh, and this was a tough decision that was made after thorough consideration and research," said Dr. Mickey Burnim, chancellor of Elizabeth City State University and chair of the CIAA Board of Directors. "But as the stewards of this distinguished cultural event, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our conference, its events and its members' scholastic benefits are maximized.

"At this time, we feel that the better option for growth and development is in Charlotte."

On Nov. 15, officials from both Raleigh and Charlotte presented their bids to the CIAA Board of Directors in Norfolk, Va. Subsequent visits were made to Charlotte on Nov. 18 and Raleigh on Nov. 21 by CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry to conduct a fact-finding mission, of sorts.

"I do not have a vote in this process, but it is my job to collect all pertinent information pertaining to the process so that the board (of directors) can make an informed decision," Kerry said.

The official announcement will be made in Charlotte Tuesday during the NBA game involving the Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets. Before relocating to New Orleans, the Hornets were in Charlotte.

The decision means Triangle schools will spend more money to travel to Charlotte and lose the visibility that comes with having the tournament in Raleigh.

Meeker said the city will look for other sporting events to make up the loss of the tournament. Raleigh offered to build a CIAA headquarters and Hall of Fame. A decision is expected after the February tournament.