This year’s basketball tournament is the beginning of the end – the last two tournaments held in Charlotte, N.C. In 2021, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) will move its tournament to Baltimore, MD. The league did not have a problem with Charlotte, where the event has been held since 2006.
The move is designed to reinvigorate the tournament, according Jacqie McWilliams, CIAA commissioner. “There are a lot of fans and alumni in the Northeast, and they’ve been coming south for a long time,” McWilliams said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “This provides an opportunity for them, it provides an opportunity to Baltimore and it will engage new fans.”
McWilliams cited Baltimore’s accessibility by plane, train and car, as well as its walkability for people who come for the tournament week, according to the article. The move is generating mixed reactions. Some have reservations about the move. Specifically, Joel Ulysse, a freshman majoring in criminal justice and visual arts, is a Charlotte native and worries what impact the move will have on his city. “The problem I have with the CIAA event moving to Baltimore is because the CIAA brought in a lot of money to the city” Ulysse said.
About 150,000 people attend the CIAA Basketball Tournament, and the annual economic impact of the event, is estimated at $50 million. Hirk Williams, a 6’7” forward on the basketball team, is from Manassas, VA, so the move would bring the tournament closer to his hometown.
“I think it’ll be good for Baltimore,” Williams said. “It should bring in a lot of money for the area. Plus, I think it could give CIAA schools below Virginia an opportunity to recruit more players and even students. Being from the DMV, I know a lot of people up North who haven’t heard about a lot of the schools in North Carolina so I’m sure it’ll give the universities a chance to really get their names out and add some more diversity from different areas.”
For CIAA fans, the move may just take some getting used to. Even Ulysse admitted that the move had some positive impact, “At the same time, it would be a good opportunity for Baltimore to gain money to better their economy,” he said.
— Garrett Davis