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CIAA tournament preparations begin in uptown, as league debates where to host next year

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/22/22/31/6vptu.Em.138.jpeg|316
    JOHN W. ADKISSON - 2012 OBSERVER FILE PHOTO
    Fred Price Jr. of Maryland cheers after watching his team play during the 2012 CIAA tournament.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/23/18/45/b4Pf6.Em.138.jpeg|173
    David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Signs of preparations for the CIAA tournament began appearing in uptown Charlotte on Sunday as crews set up for the week of basketball, reunions and partying. But the construction and planning come amid questions about whether one of the Queen City’s biggest tourism events will return next year.

Workers spent the day putting the finishing touches on an expansive dance floor beneath a large white tent, where organizers will host several parties on North College Street. And the Charlotte Convention Center a few blocks away boasted several electronic and paper signs welcoming tournament guests to the city.

On the Internet and social networking websites, plans for dozens of parties were being finalized.

The tournament lasts from Tuesday to Sunday and includes 22 basketball games in Time Warner Cable Arena. The three-day CIAA Fan Experience takes place at the Charlotte Convention Center.

The preparations come as the Hampton, Va.-based CIAA is debating whether or not Charlotte should host the tournament next year.

Last year, the CIAA rebuffed the city’s request to exclusively negotiate a contract extension. Instead, the association has said it will issue a formal request that all interested cities submit proposals.

At stake is one of the city’s biggest tourism events, estimated to generate more than $40 million in economic impact.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Association estimates that CIAA visitors occupy more than 40,000 hotel room nights. In addition to the basketball games, the CIAA is known for numerous parties at clubs and restaurants.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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