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CIAA's Board Chair Says Price Gouging 'Left A Bad Taste' For Fans

Gwendolyn Glenn/ WFAE

Updated: 5:25 p.m.

CIAA officials cited an array of reasons why the association has decided to move its annual tournament to Baltimore and out of Charlotte beginning in 2021, including because of complaints of price gouging at hotels in the city.

Speaking to WFAE today, CIAA Board Chair James Anderson said price gouging among some Charlotte hotels had become a consistent problem and led to disgruntled fans.

"The city did a pretty good job in terms of addressing some of those issues," Anderson said. "But I still think that left a bad taste for some of our fans."

The CIAA began taking bids for new host cities last summer. Anderson said Baltimore had several assets, including city-owned hotels.

"So they can regulate prices a lot better," he said. "They can set a price and guarantee us that price will be there when our fans come."

At a press conference in Baltimore Tuesday morning, CIAA officials said fans had been pressing the association to change locations, and the CIAA has previously reported waning attendance numbers at the Charlotte tournament in recent years. 

Tom Murray with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said their research also showed that CIAA fans were getting restless in Charlotte. 

"A lot of the guest and members were anxious to try other cities. It was one of the top suggestions for improvement," Murray said. "And you got to remember one-in-three attendees have been to the last 12 conferences. An amazing statistic."

But Charlotte is losing a big annual event that the CRVA says contributes $50 million to the city's economy. Murray did point out that the CIAA moved its headquarters to Charlotte a few years ago. He said that's sticking around.

City Council member Justin Harlow lamented the loss of the tournament for Charlotte.

"This will be a hit, no question," Harlow said. "This is a loss for the city of Charlotte, not just for black Charlotte, but for the whole city of Charlotte, the tourism industry.

"But ultimately, this is a business decision by the CIAA," Harlow added. "We hope we can make a play for it to come back."

Charlotte has hosted the event since 2006 and will continue to host the tournament for the next two years. Norfolk, Virginia, was also a finalist to host future tournaments. Baltimore last hosted the championship in 1951.