Largest Crowd Yet Anticipated for CIAA

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thousands packed the Charlotte Convention Center Thursday as the CIAA Tournament kicked off Fan Fest.

This year is expected to have the biggest crowd yet for the tournament that draws more people than any other tournament in the Nation.

“It puts Charlotte on the map,” said fans like Wade Ferguson.

CIAA Commissioner Jacquie McWilliams estimates 200,000 fans and alumni from around the country are spending money and time in the Queen City this weekend.

“The growth is there,” said McWilliams. “I feel it. I see it! We have great numbers. Ticket sales are up. Hotels are filled.”

Last year, 150,000 fans spent more than $55 million in Charlotte.

“So, the city should be applauding, right?” said Ferguson.

“It brings in good money, good business for the restaurants, for the clubs,” said Tanya Owens. “So, I’m excited just to be a part of it.”

Outside, fans spent their cash at local bars after basketball games.

Inside, families and college students started the weekend with Fan Fest concerts.

“I’ve been coming since it came to Charlotte,” said Ferguson.

They won’t stop until the last after party on Sunday.