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Exclusive: CIAA Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter

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Could the CIAA Tournament be in the Bronx next year?

According to Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter the NYC neighborhood is interested in hosting one of Black America’s major events. But so is a slew of other cities, including DC, Atlanta, Philadelphia and many more.  Charlotte, which last hosted the tournament in 2006, is also a contender.

“Charlotte has been a great partner since I’ve gotten here,” says Carpenter.  “This past year, we’ve been able to implement and make some changes and they understand what the partnership should look like.  I’m very proud that Charlotte has been open to some of the suggestions that we’ve made.”

This week marks the 69th tournament and, since moving from Raleigh to Charlotte eight years ago, it has seen tremendous growth.

Last year’s economic impact on Charlotte was $47 million, actually down from the $50 million the one-week tournament generated in 2012.  Still this is Charlotte’s largest annual tourism event and they want to keep it.

I believe that the CIAA Tournament will not be in Charlotte next year.  Nine years is a long time in one city.  I don’t think it will be in DC, Philly, or Atlanta either.

Bronx? Maybe. NYC in and of itself is a lure. Plus, upgrades are being made to the Kingsbridge Armory.

But if the financial guarantee to the conference is right, then everyone is in play.

When Carpenter came into the position 18 months ago, she inherited a conference that was “seven figures” in debt.  How does the tournament generate a boatload of revenue for a city, yet the conference is in the hole?

When asked whether the tournament has become too big, Carpenter started to answer and paused.

“You like to see big events like the CIAA, [NBA] All-Star Game, ACC [Tournament], those are great events to see. You want to make sure you keep the focus on why you’re even here,” she says. “Without student-athletes there is no tournament.  At the same time, you want to make sure you can provide that same experience for the sponsors.

“There’s really a great balance on what that growth looks like. For us, it’s to make sure we can control that balance. We’re working with a city so we have measures in place where individuals are not using the CIAA for their benefit where there’s no benefit or impact for the CIAA.”

Exactly.

The CIAA Tournament is the third largest only behind the ACC and the Big East despite attendance at games waning in recent years.  The tournament has become more about the parties and less about basketball.

Raleigh, which is also in North Carolina, would be ideal. One of the drawbacks for Raleigh and one of the reasons they ultimately lost the tournament was the lack of hotels downtown and, unlike Charlotte, the arena in Raleigh is not downtown.

A hotel, however, has since been added and the convention center has been made larger.  The city hosted the 2011 NHL All-Star Game successfully and showed that all ancillary events can be held downtown at the convention center and the games at the PNC Arena, about a 10-minute drive from downtown.

The question is: will Raleigh/Wake County give the CIAA the scholarship money it would ask for? Some balked at the $340,000 that was given in 2005.

Charlotte currently provides the CIAA $1 million in scholarships. Only time will tell.

You can listen to my interview with Carpenter in its entirety on BOX TO ROW this Friday 1p ET/10a PT on SiriusXM Channel 141, Saturday 12-1p ET/9-10a PT on SiriusXM Channel 142 or on a radio station near you. Meanwhile, check out a preview of the 2014 CIAA Tournament here.

You can follow Donal Ware on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorowPlease share your thoughts at talkback@jetmag.com.