|Bojangles Coliseum emerges as potential CIAA tournament site|
|Early-round games, league HQ part of proposal|
|Published Thursday, July 10, 2014|
CHARLOTTE – The CIAA’s new home could include a second site for its basketball tournament.
The league, which will move its headquarters to Charlotte by 2016, is in discussions to locate its offices to a proposed amateur sports complex at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Independence Boulevard.
The first two days of the CIAA men’s and women’s tournaments, which had been played at Time Warner Cable Arena in Center City, would be moved to the 10,000-seat venue.
Attendance at the early-round games historically lags the weekend contests, which draws near-sellout crowds and national television audiences. The tournament routinely brings 180,000 people to Charlotte for a week of games, parties and social events.
“They’d definitely be a prestigious tenant,” Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority spokeswoman Laura Hill said. “We’d love to have them in that space.”
Calls to CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams and her spokespersons were not returned, but Hill said talks between the city and conference has been productive.
“I think they’re excited about it,” Hill said.
Any CIAA move is contingent on funding for the $72 million project to be developed by Sarasota, Fla.-based GoodSports Enterprises. The city of Charlotte would chip in $25 million while GoodSports picks up the remainder. A meeting with City Council is scheduled for next month. The complex would include a multipurpose facility connecting the coliseum and auditorium as well as add a 140-room hotel and restaurant.
“That (scenario) is based on a number of variables,” Hill said. “It’s not confirmed by any means.”
The multipurpose building would include eight basketball courts to be used for games or practices as well as host Olympic sports such as wrestling and volleyball. At a March press conference announcing the CIAA’s move and extension of its tournament deal with Charlotte, McWilliams cited the potential of partnering with the city to host multiple championships.
“You could have all these events going on at one time,” Hill said.
GoodSports has built several amateur sports “villages” across the U.S., including St. Louis, Mo., where construction on an 85,000 square foot fieldhouse and 130-room hotel will start in the fall. The company, which estimates the traveling sports industry is worth $7.1 billion with 53 million participants, is building complexes in Wichita, Kansas and Columbus, Ohio.
Charlotte officials are considering leasing land near the coliseum and auditorium to GoodSports for the hotel site. The city recently bought the Econo Lodge hotel next to Ovens for $3.5 million as well as a closed pancake restaurant and hotel that had been cited as a public safety nuisance. A sports complex would provide an economic jolt to the coliseum area, which has struggled in recent years to attract business with Independence’s transition to a freeway. The coliseum, which hosted college basketball and hockey games in the past, lost its anchor tenant in 2005 when the Charlotte Checkers moved to time Warner Cable Arena. GoodSports estimates up to 100,000 hotel room nights would be generated by events at the complex.
“The beauty of negotiations is the new possibilities we have once we hit the reset button,” Hill said.
One thing that wouldn’t change is the CIAA men’s and women’s semifinals and finals held at Time Warner Cable Arena, which seats 20,200 for college basketball. “The arena is still very much part of the equation,” Hill said. “There’ll definitely be no takeaway from the championship games’ energy.”
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