The finishing touches are being put on the 2020 CIAA Tournament, just hours before the big event tips off Tuesday.
The 2020 tournament will be the last one in Charlotte for at least the next three years, as it heads to Baltimore beginning in 2021. Charlotte has played host to the event, which has brought hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy, since 2006. Over the past decade, over $400 million has come directly from the CIAA Tournament, and the impact goes far beyond just basketball.
According to city leaders, last year's tournament brought in around $43 million, including $25 million in direct spending from more than 75,000 fans.
The CIAA is the nation's first Historically Black College athletic conference and is the most recognized league in Division II. The tournament has been Charlotte's largest annual event since coming to the Queen City 14 years ago. ago, with fans and alumni attending step shows, parties and of course, the games.
Johnson C. Smith University graduate Fred Tatum has attended every CIAA Tournament in Charlotte.
"It's a family atmosphere with a lot of partying, but there's more than partying," Tatum said. "We work with our younger high school and middle school students to give them an idea of what college is like, and get them opportunities to even apply for college and give them scholarships."
Over the past 13 years, the CIAA has awarded over $20 million in scholarships. Banks hopes people continue to support CIAA events, particularly for the educational value.
"We need to continue to support our HBCUs and the CIAA Tournament needs to continue to be supported," Tatum said. "It's part of our history."