Actress Tatyana Ali laughs during the TGI Forum at the CIAA 2014 Basketball Tournament, on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision /AP Images)

Donald Traill

Actress Tatyana Ali laughs during the TGI Forum at the CIAA 2014 Basketball Tournament, on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision /AP Images)

CIAA Tournament signs to stay with Charlotte

By STEVE REED

Associated Press

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CHARLOTTE – The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is returning to Charlotte – this time for good.

CIAA commissioner Jacqie Carpenter announced Monday that not only will the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments remain in Charlotte for “at least six more years,” but that the CIAA is moving its headquarters to the city, too.

The CIAA headquarters have been based in Hampton, Va., since the conference formed more than 100 years ago. The move is expected by 2016 at the latest.

The Division II tournament, which is known for its week-long parties that include national celebrities, has been held in Charlotte since 2006. However, the contract expired following the completion of this year’s tournament, which wrapped up last weekend.

“Charlotte did a really good job of bringing all of its key leaders together to see how this agreement could stretch beyond the CIAA Tournament,” Carpenter said in a news conference Monday in Charlotte. “I think it’s a great opportunity to embed ourselves in the community here.”

It represents an abrupt change of plans for the CIAA.

Carpenter said recently that the conference planned to send out bids to cities interested in hosting the tournament this week, and a decision on the future site of the tournament would be come in late March. But Carpenter said Charlotte presented the CIAA an offer it simply couldn’t refuse.

Upon receiving Charlotte’s proposal last week, Carpenter spoke with the CIAA’s board of governors on Friday and plans were put in place to finalize the deal.

As part of the agreement, the city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority will provide various benefits, including $1.4 million in funding per year to the CIAA. Carpenter said that money will be distributed among the conference’s 12 schools.

“I don’t think that we could go anywhere else and get the type of deal that we’re about to encounter now,” Carpenter said. “Based on what was presented we felt like this was the best opportunity for us.”

Games will continue to be played at Time Warner Cable Arena, home of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon applauded the agreement at the news conference, calling it “an overtime buzzer-beater victory” for the city and the CIAA.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said the 2013 CIAA Tournament generated a substantial economic impact for the region, with $29.86 million in direct spending and $47.17 million in economic impact.

The CIAA announced that new ticket, hotel and event details are already in the planning stages for next year’s tournament. The city and the CIAA will continue to formalize details of the partnership over the coming months.

“We are thrilled to keep this tournament in Charlotte after such an action-packed week,” Cannon said. “For the last nine years it has been a signature event for our city, and for the next six years it will become even more ingrained into the culture and character of what makes this city of Charlotte so unique.”

The CIAA is the oldest African-American athletic conference in the nation and consists of Bowie State, Chowan, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, Johnson C. Smith, Lincoln, Livingstone, Saint Augustine’s, Shaw, Virginia State, Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State.

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