The CIAA, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, tournament will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend. Celebrities like Ray J, R. Kelly and Chris Brown are expected to attend the event, which has been described as “a full-on festival,” said the Charlotte Observer. “Like NBA All-Star Weekend meets Mardi Gras; like a 24-hour party where a basketball game breaks out.” This CIAA tournament marks the organization’s 100th anniversary, so this year’s event is going to be bigger than ever.
The CIAA basketball tournament apparently boosts day and night parties, a massive number of events and anyone who plans to attend this weekend should expect to burn a hole in their wallet. Although it’s free to get into the Convention Center CIAA Fan Experience, the event throughout the day can have up to $200 in cover charges. A local news station in Charlotte interviewed an attendee, Calvin Johnson, who said, “I plan to spend about $5,000 this weekend. I’ve already spent more than $1,000 and we’ve only been here a few hours.” WCNC reported, “Last year organizers said more than 190,000 people attended CIAA events. Bar and restaurant owners said Thursday night the crowds already seemed to be larger.”
For those who aren’t sure what the CIAA even is, it has been around since 1912 and is oldest African-American athletic conference in the nation and consists of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on the east coast. According to the CIAA website, “one of the nation’s premier sporting events is the annual CIAA Basketball Tournament. Touted as the third most attended basketball tournament among all NCAA divisions, the first tournament was a 2,000 seat sellout in Washington, D.C. Since the year 2000, the CIAA has generated over $226.06 million in economic impact for the state of North Carolina and over $16.5 million in overall scholarship dollars for CIAA member institutions.