Watch CBS News

CIAA tournaments tipoff in Baltimore with fanfare, business boosts: 'Memories for a lifetime'

CIAA tournaments tipoff in Baltimore with fanfare, business boosts
CIAA tournaments tipoff in Baltimore with fanfare, business boosts 03:16

BALTIMORE - The CIAA basketball tournaments are about the culture, community and cash coming to Baltimore.

Thirteen Historically Black Colleges and Universities are embarking this week on Charm City for the men's and women's basketball championships.

The CIAA is the oldest Black athletics conference in the country.

With this tournament, the schools' fans and alumni are turning Baltimore into a week-long family reunion.

"Glad it's here in Baltimore," said Gary Palmer, from Randallstown.

If you know anything about Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the first order of business is always the sound of the bands. Bowie State welcomed the league's commissioner last week at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

"You feel that experience before you get here," CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams-Parker said. "When you get it, you feel it. When you get into the hotel, you feel it even more, and when you leave, you have memories for a lifetime."

CIAA brings buzz to downtown Baltimore 02:31

Play on the basketball court tipped off on Monday at CFG Bank Arena with the championships to be held on Saturday.

"I think it is all positive," Palmer said. "I think it's going to bring a lot of money and a lot of good spirits to Baltimore." 

The impact - with fans and alumni - is expected to provide Baltimore with a $30 million economic boost, and add more than 1,500 jobs. 

"Our hotels are booked during one of the slowest times of the year historically," Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said. "People are coming in from all the CIAA schools." 

"About  $1.2 million went to small Black-owned businesses that supported this tournament, so this is a really big deal for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland," said Al Hutchinson, the CEO of Visit of Baltimore.

And of course, aside from the culture and the cash, one must not forget that Baltimore is a haven for rich basketball history. 

So for student-athletes, CIAA is a chance to celebrate HBCU.

"You all have invested your mind, your body, your soul and have allowed us to build a brand for our students and make us feel like we're part of your community," McWilliams-Parker said. 

"As our student-athletes take to the court, and our alumni arrive in the city to unite and celebrate in the HBCU traditions and experience, thank you and let's get underway with the CIAA in Charm City," said Bowie State President Aminta Breaux.

The CIAA tournament moved to Baltimore in 2021 after spending years in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has a deal to stay in Baltimore through at least 2026.

If you've never been to the CIAA Tournament, it's an energy to behold.

More than 50 events are happening all week, including a step show, a battle of the bands and a fanfest which kicks off Friday.

More than 100,000 people from around the country are expected to flock to downtown Baltimore for the CIAA events.

The excitement from fans, in the form of alumni, family and friends, was electric for the tournament's opening day, with the series of games offering something special for those in the stands. 

"I'm an Elizabeth City State fanatic," said fan Reggie Ponder. "That can be our honeymoon, is going to the CIAA. So we'll just get married on the 24th. So, we talked about that. We actually set the date based on this."

If you are planning on attending the games, keep in mind the roads will be much more Department of Transportation issues traffic advisory ahead of CIAA Tournament.

South Howard Street and South Baltimore Streets will be closed around the arena, so be sure to give yourself extra time before leaving.

For more on tickets and the tournament, check out its website.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.