Local News

ESA Stars for CIAA Tourney, Open House

Posted March 4, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— This was a big week for the new Entertainment and Sports Arena. First, several days of intense basketball rivalries culminated Saturday night with the the CIAA Tournament finals.

Then, on Sunday, an open house showed the new facility to even more people.

Most people only get to see the Entertainment and Sports Arena as they by on the Beltline or on television.

Sunday it was everyone's opportunity to see the multi-million dollar sports complex up close. An open house allowed everyone to see those areas of the facility that can't seen from the stands.

Visitors made their way through the building, getting to peek at the luxury box suites, the backstage tunnels, even the locker rooms.

Meanwhile, by all accounts the CIAA is being called a huge success. Thousands of fans came, they saw, they spent -- a projected $6 million to $8 million.

As the CIAA champions proved themselves on the hardwood this weekend, Raleigh's Entertainment and Sports Arena proved it can host a week-long, multi-million dollar sports event.

Now, Triangle leaders hope that success will help them land more sporting events.

Twenty-four teams from 12 colleges competed at the new arena. Thousands of fans filled the stands for 22 games, a battle of the bands, a cheerleading competition, and other events.

The arena can now add the most financially successful tournament in CIAA history to its resume. Community leaders say pulling off this event will help them pursue other tournaments.

"We think it is going to be invaluable, because we know with the success of this event, we'll go after the women's regional, the ACC men's final four and the ACC men's regional as well," predicted David Heinl, head of the Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

And recruiting efforts won't be limited to sports tournaments. Many CIAA fans belong to large business, community and religious groups that could also hold events at the arena.

The CIAA itself will make a repeat performance at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Raleigh is the host city for the next two years.