Charlotte Council Member Says CIAA Didn’t Have to Go

CHARLOTTE, NC – “It’s a bad day for Charlotte,” said Charlotte City Councilman James Mitchell after learning the CIAA basketball tournament will move from the QC to Baltimore in 2021.

The six day event in early March has been held in Charlotte since 2006. Councilman James Mitchell says the city’s bid came up short.

“We needed Spectrum arena for three days. We needed Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We needed more on the scholarship and we didn’t deliver,” said Mitchell.

Baltimore offered $2 million in scholarship money. According to the CRVA bid, Charlotte only offered 1.5 million. Mitchell says the bid sent the wrong message and the CIAA took notice.

“Not every city gave us that sense of including us in the future of that city,” said Dr. James Anderson, the head of the CIAA Board of Directors.

“Disappointed,” said James Bazzelle, the owner of Mert’s Heart and Soul restaurant in Uptown, “I wish we could have kept them.”

Bazzelle says the impact will reach beyond his sales that week, disrupting his vendors. He says the city should have done more to keep the tournament in town.

“I would have been a little heavy handed personally if I was in their position,” said Bazzelle.

The head of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority says they’re working to replace the tournament.

“We’re confident that we can continue to drive business into our hotels,” said Tom Murray.

Murray touted future events to fill the void and says while losing the CIAA is disappointing he says conference leadership was looking for a change.

“It was our base that told us to look at other sites,” said Anderson.

“I think the decision was more around whether or not it should be rotating or not,” said Murray.

It’s a sentiment Mitchell disagrees with. “That rotating the cities. That’s not a legitimate excuse.”

The tournament will remain in Charlotte through the 2020 season.