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CIAA Tournament Pumps Big Bucks Into Local Economies

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WINSTON-SALEM — The CIAA basketball tournament is about three things; black pride, an orange ball and green as in money.

Winston-Salem's economy is beneficiary of an estimated $8 million this year. Raleigh will cash in next year, and that figure could increase.

At Cactus Jack's, a steakhouse within a stones throw of the Lawrence Joel Coliseum, business is up 25 percent. Booking a room at a hotel is like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. These are some of the benefits Raleigh will reap when the tournament hits town next year.

"I really hope we can revive the students and get them involved," says CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry. "We also hope we can pull from that 1.5 million people in the Raleigh-Durham area and sell more tickets."

Kerry says a big financial draw with be the additional 14,000 lower level seats in the new Entertainment & Sports Arena, which were part of the selling points that landed the games in Raleigh.

"The fact that we are centrally located within all of the member schools of the conference, I think it opens the door to a lot more students and people that haven't been exposed to the CIAA Tournament," says Sims Hinds, vice president of Hurricanes Arena Management.

Raleigh officials want to play up the tournament's electric atmosphere, not only for the financial rewards, but also to establish a track record.

"We had a great history at Reynolds Coliseum with post-season basketball play," says Fred Hutchison with theRaleigh Chamber of Commerce. "We haven't had that for a lot of years."

Tournament patrons in Winston-Salem were given brochures and a visitor's guide help them begin to make their plans for next year in Raleigh.

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Ken Smith, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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