In a one-on-one battle against costs, the CIAA will trade some uptown exposure for a smaller price tag in its future basketball tournaments.
The conference, in a cost-cutting move, announced Wednesday that early round games in its men’s and women’s basketball tournament will be played at Bojangles’ Coliseum instead of Time Warner Cable Arena, starting in 2017.
The late-round games – including the championship – will stay uptown.
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The CIAA and the city have said that uptown remains a major draw for the tournament because fans can watch games and go to bars and restaurants without getting in their cars.
But moving early games to the older, smaller venue on Independence Boulevard will save money, which is a high priority for the collection of historically black colleges and universities.
“Our board has been concerned about reducing expenses,” said CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams during a news conference Wednesday.
The tournament doesn’t need the larger 19,000-seat Time Warner Cable Arena for its early games, which usually have thousands of empty seats. Bojangles’ has half the seating. Discussions already are underway to start a free shuttle to run between uptown and the early round games.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and the CIAA announced in March that they had agreed to a new six-year contract to keep the tournament in Charlotte. Wednesday, the two parties announced more details.
• In its first nine years in Charlotte, the CIAA received $1 million for scholarships from the CRVA, the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. That will increase to $1.4 million. Charlotte taxpayers’ contribution will increase from $200,000 to $300,000.
• The CIAA says the CRVA has essentially agreed to pay for its arena expenses during the weeklong tournament, which usually costs about $320,000. That cost will be eased by moving the early games to Bojangles’ – a city-owned facility that’s cheaper to operate.
The additional scholarship money, along with the CRVA helping with arena expenses, could bring the CIAA an additional $700,000. The association has struggled with balancing its budget, according to recent tax returns.
• Carpenter said the CIAA and CRVA have reached a deal with numerous hotels that have agreed to set aside 3,000 rooms at lower rates than fans paid in the past.
She said rooms will be from $100 to $250. In the past, she said, some fans have had to pay $300 to $400 per night for a room. The CIAA is also lowering the price of tickets, which go on sale Sept. 8.
• The CIAA said earlier this year it would relocate its offices to Charlotte from Hampton, Va. That includes nine employees. The CRVA said Wednesday it would give the CIAA $100,000 for moving expenses and would also help pay part of its rent. The CIAA expects to move next summer.
The city and the CRVA plan to spend $12 million to renovate Bojangles’, which opened in 1955. The city would use hospitality tax dollars for the improvements.