Charlotte has hosted the CIAA tournament since 2006 and this February, we will bid farewell to this southern metropolis. As a sports epicenter, for many years the city provided opportunities to create memories that fans, classmates, and neighbors bonded over. The tense basketball games and reuniting with alums will continue. But, it will happen in Baltimore for the next three years. In the meantime, let’s look at what made tournaments so special in the Queen City. There are so many Charlotte attractions. The variety of parties, proximity of lodging options, 24-hour food selections, constant run in with celebrities on the sidewalk; and, these interactions are all centered around the games.
One of my favorite parties to attend during the weekend is the “Chicken and Beer Day Party” at the Buffalo Wild Wings located next to the Nascar Hall of Fame. Usually DJ Shakim (New Edition tour DJ) provides the sounds. What a way to start the weekend. A basket of wings and fries, good sounds, awesome collection of people, and this is all before 5PM! I tend to find myself walking across the street to the Toyota Fan Fest experience to catch the scheduled activities (cooking shows, guest speakers, etc.), check out a concert and network with HBCU alums. A lot of people I speak with usually mention going the Coyote Joe’s for a day party. It’s usually too far beyond my travel limitations so I stick to events closer within the city limits. Last year I went to Bar One, but I heard that it’s closed now so who knows where I’ll go.
After a brief nap, I absorb the feel of the city: a lot of people hang out in atriums – people-watching and congregating. Fraternities and Sororities greeting each other, and spreading love. I look for the shortest food line. I take in a game and prepare to go to another for the night. I usually weigh my options. I search on “eventbrite ciaa” and look for where Doug E. Fresh or DJ Kid Capri will be. If I can find tickets, great! If not, cool I continue searching. Fantasia is from the area, so I look her up as well. I follow her on Instagram and see where she might be partying. One of the parties that does intrigue me so far this year is the 90’s Old-School House Party. The nostalgia of it has me hyped right now as I type. I just see that tickets are available and DJ Mister Cee is on the one’s and two’s. It doesn’t get more 90’s than that!
On Saturday my lineup is usually set. Every year I know what I’m going to do and where I’m planning to go. I start off with the celebrity basketball game. It is a charity event so I feel like my purchase is a contribution to a positive cause. From there I head over to the “Star 23 Enterprise Kings and Queens day party”. A mature classy affair with an adult atmosphere. They offer an open bar option and boy it is great. I literally wear myself out having fun. Free parking, exciting experience, nice vendors, and the ambiance of the venue is very elegant. Guest celebrities often show up. Great value if you can get a ticket. By my night’s end I look up who won the tournament. The rates to get into game is a little too much for me so I show my support of other ways: I try to get a tee shirt or hat!
I am going to miss coming to Charlotte after this year, but I’m make the most of it when it happens. I hope Baltimore is just as much fun in 2021.