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CIAA Vendors Score With Fans

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RALEIGH — Wednesday is considered to be the biggest day of theCIAA Tournamentso far, and everyone is getting ready.

The first men's games started at 1 p.m. Off the court, the vendors hope to be the big winners at theEntertainment and Sports Arena.

"I think a lot of people will turn out more instead of going out straight after the games, they will be coming in and circulating in with the vendors," says Perry Brooks. "I think it will be a tremendous plus."

From T-shirts to hats to leather bags, the fans can score with league merchandise.

There will be 88 vendors who will take over the upper level at the arena, including Mr. Jack.

Jack's job is to get the 30,000 or so fans this year to walk away with something containing the official CIAA logo.

You must have a ticket to have access to everything from the fur coats to the jewelry, except on Saturday.

On Super Saturday, all of the vendors' merchandise will be available to the public from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and no ticket is needed.

Outside the arena, visitors of local businesses are seeing dollar signs.

"It's a major impact on the hotels and a major impact on the restaurants and overall, it's a win-win for the city, the county and region in general," says Scott Dupree of theGreater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The tables are set for visitors at South End Brewery. The rush for them started last weekend.

"We had probably one of our busiest Fridays since we have been open," says Spencer Strahl, restaurant manager.

Since the tournament will be held in Raleigh for the next three years, Strahl is doing everything he can to ensure CIAA fans become repeat customers.

"We've tried to accommodate them a little bit more than normal, this being the first year of the tournament in Raleigh so we have tried to take extra care of them," Strahl says.

Visitors are coming from as far as Virginia and Maryland which results in a big score for local businesses.

"The total spending for the CIAA Tournament is looking at about $8 million a year for the next three years because this is a three-year deal," Dupree says. "Of that $8 million, that translates into a little over $600,000 in sales tax."

Restaurant managers are expecting a bigger total as more people head into Raleigh this weekend.


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