Local News

CIAA fans adjust for economy

Posted February 26, 2009 8:39 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— Fans attending the 64th Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament in Charlotte this week say they are cutting back or altering their regular tournament plans because of the sluggish economy.

“We eat out a lot when we come. So, we’ll probably eat out a little less than we normally do. We’ll probably eat more strategically planned meals rather than three times a day, like we would normally do,” tournament attendee Hattie Bazemore said.

The tournament runs through Saturday at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

At Mert’s Heart and Soul Restaurant, located near the tournament site, sales have been down in comparison with last year, owner James Bazzelle said.

Vendors at the arena have also noticed a decline in the usually large crowd. More than 181,000 people attended last year’s tournament, according to the tournament’s Web site.

“Foot traffic has been very light so far, but I understand it gets better as days go by,” CIAA vendor Deborah Dolman said.

CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry admits the history-rich tournament isn't immune from the downtown in the economy.

“We’re fortunate our sponsors have been in place. We’re fortunate we sold a lot of tickets and people (are) turning out. It’s a little bit tougher,” Kerry said.