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CIAA Moves To Charlotte (and keeps tournament here)

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), an athletic conference of historically black colleges and universities, just wrapped up its ninth basketball tournament this weekend in Charlotte. There was some question whether it would have a tenth year in the city, but CIAA officials said Monday the tournament is staying put. 

The CIAA's contract expired with the city this year and CIAA officials were looking at other cities for a better deal. On Monday, CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter said Charlotte was able to offer one. 

"I'm pleased to announce that the CIAA will remain in Charlotte for the next six years beginning in 2015 and that Charlotte will be the new home of the CIAA conference headquarters in 2016," Carpenter said. 

To lure the CIAA, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray said the CRVA will increase its annual scholarship contribution from $1 million  to $1.4 million.

"It's the, singly, the largest convention we have on an annual basis," Murray says. "And we are excited about the fact they're becoming part of our community as well with the announcement with the relocation of their office. So it's really an exciting reset to our relationship."

CIAA officials say the tournament draws about 200,000 fans to Charlotte each year.

The CRVA added a few other things to sweeten the deal: it will pick up some of the cost of using Time Warner Cable arena.  Currently, the CIAA pays $312,000 to staff it for the week and the CRVA will also help pay to relocate the CIAA's headquarters from Hampton Virginia.

Murray won't say what that amounts to because he says they're still negotiating.  

Carpenter had planned to ask cities interested in hosting the tournament to submit a proposal.  But she said she didn't end up doing that because Charlotte made a good offer. 

"It's expensive to be here for a week," Carpenter said. "And so to make sure we put an infrastructure – a financial structure in place where we can support our member institutions in coming to the tournament whether it's here or anywhere else is extremely important."

The CIAA has had some financial problems.  In 2012, before Carpenter took over the group had a $1.7 million operating deficit and had to dip into its reserves.  It ended up $700,000 in debt that year.