Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill among star-studded CIAA guests expected amid games, parties

The CIAA tournament is back – and it’s more than just a week of basketball. It is a family reunion – with to-be-seen-at parties and concerts.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the nation’s oldest black athletic conference, was created more than 100 years ago by all-black colleges and universities that sprang up just before and after the Civil War when few white schools admitted African-Americans.

Each year the tournament is a place to be seen and reconnect with friends – and the past.

Now, for the 10th year, the CIAA is bringing thousands of fans of its 12 schools – including Charlotte’s Johnson C. Smith University – back to Time Warner Cable Arena. They’ll fill hotels and restaurants – and spend about $30 million, tourism officials estimate.

The basketball games start Tuesday and run through Saturday. Here’s a glimpse at what goes on off the court:

Outside the arena

The fun begins right away and goes all week. Just a sampling:

Wednesday: Frolic: The Social Climb at Sports One Charlotte (521 N. College St.): with DJ Flemingo on the turntables. 6 p.m.-midnight. Tickets: www.talkofthetownent.com.

Education Day: Recruiters from all the CIAA schools will be on hand Wednesday to meet with local high school and middle school students searching for a college. Charlotte Convention Center (501 S. Tryon St.), 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Thursday: Funny man Rickey Smiley , radio, stage and TV personality, will bring his nationally syndicated radio show to the CIAA, airing live from the Charlotte Convention Center, Halls A and B, 6 to 10 a.m.

Starting at 9 p.m., the Legends of Hip Hop will fill the convention center’s Hall C. Featured performers: Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock and MC Lyte. Tickets: www.crowntickets.com.

HEAVEN @ BLUE at Blue Restaurant (206 N. College St.): Featuring DJ 06 and The Let It Flow Band. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets:www.talkofthetownent.com.

Charlotte Takeover at Oasis Tent (514 N. College St.): The star-studded lineup is scheduled to include Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, Ginuwine, Tank, Yo Gotti, Bigga Rankin, Rich Homie Quan and DJ Milk. 9 p.m.-3 a.m.. Tickets: www.eventbrite.com.

Friday: Tom Joyner will air his syndicated radio show at the convention center (Halls A and B, 6 to 10 a.m.) and the tournament will hold its John B. McLendon Jr. CIAA Hall of Fame Breakfast in Ballroom A at 9 a.m. Tickets for the HOF breakfast, click here.

The Official Day Party Headquarters, Part 1: NC Music Factory (900 NC Music Factory Blvd.); The Texicali (formerly called Saloon) and The Comedy Zone, all located at 900 NC Music Factory Blvd, will rock with music from four DJs. Time noon to midnight, with celebrity late-night parties 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Details: www.talkofthetownent.com.

Party With a Purpose at BLT Steak at The Ritz-Carlton (110 N. College St.): A red-carpet, “dress-to-impress” event, designed to raise awareness about child homelessness. Proceeds go to A Child’s Place. Music by DJ Mark. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tickets: www.achildsplace.org.

“Jazz at Packard Place continues from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday. Harvey Cummings, a Charlotte-raised saxophonist, pianist and keyboardist, will lead an all-star band playing the music of Charlie “Bird” Parker. Packard Place was built in 1929 as a Packard automobile dealership. It is now an uptown hub for like-minded entrepreneurs and innovators.

Saturday: The Official Day Party Headquarters, Part 2: NC Music Factory. Rapper Chubb Rock set to perform, with DJs Shakim, Flemingo and Big Cutz presiding over the turntables. Noon to midnight. Details: www.talkofthetownent.com.

CIAA Post Tournament Concert at Charlotte Convention Center: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, one the most influential R&B/soul groups of all time, is the headliner. 10 p.m. Tickets: www.crowntickets.com.

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