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Council Member: City Must Study Why CIAA Is Leaving

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Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE

The CIAA basketball tournament, one of Charlotte's biggest tourism events, will leave the city in two years, according to a report from the website HBCU Gameday.

The report said the CIAA will move its tournament to Baltimore starting in 2021.

News of the move leaked before the Charlotte City Council meeting Monday night. At-large council member James Mitchell, who had led efforts to keep the CIAA in Charlotte, was disappointed by the news. He said he didn't want to comment before a CIAA news conference that's expected to be held Tuesday.

Council member Justin Harlow said the news was "disappointing." He said the city and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority would need to study why Charlotte couldn't keep the tournament.

But it's possible that the CIAA just wanted to go somewhere else.

Charlotte has held the tournament since 2006 after the CIAA moved from Raleigh. Attendance has declined in recent years, and the CIAA has complained that uptown hotels haven't given them large enough discounts on hotel rooms.

There has also been tension over violence that had been associated with the tournament. The 2018 tournament was considered a success, but other recent tournaments had been marred by gunfire — believed to be from people who came to Charlotte for CIAA-related parties.

In 2014, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority reached an agreement with the CIAA to host the tournament for six more years. The agreement called for the CRVA to give the CIAA nearly $1.6 million in incentives in the final year of the agreement, which is 2020.

The tournament is held in February, a slow time for city hotels.