What is CIAA?
"The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was founded in 1912 as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association and is the oldest African-American athletic conference in the nation. Once a year there is a CIAA Basketball Tournament. It is knoow as the third most attended basketball tournament among all NCAA divisions. Outside of the tournament it is a week long events inncluding parties, numerous educational and healthy-livings components, step shows and a battle of the bands. The men’s and women’s tournaments are held simultaneously and their respective championship games are on Saturday night.
First if you are reading this post now and don’t have a place to stay. It’s too late! I’ve retired but in my 7 years of attending CIAA I have observed the following to maximize your experience at CIAA:
1) Book your hotel EARLY (6+ months in advance). Some people book their hotel as soon as the previous year’s CIAA is over so the earlier the better. If you can afford it stay in the Uptown area/Epicentre. If not south Charlotte by the airport may be the next best thing. If you're looking to stay in an Airbnb you can receive $35 off your first stay. Click to claim.
2) Although this is a basketball tournament it is important to know no one goes to the games and the majority of the attendees have no ties to the CIAA schools (Bowie State University, Chowan University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Livingstone College, St. Augustine’s University, Shaw University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University and Winston-Salem State University). If you want to go it’s easy to score free tickets from giveaways at the convention center. BUT Try to support the games, the reason for the events! :)
3) Day parties are better than the night parties, always (especially Friday)! You can pay in advance for a day party or try to take part of free entry that starts at around 12pm, if you do free early admission be prepared to wait for the party to get good around 3pm. Check out frequently updated list of the parties.
4) For best ticket prices to parties buy in January or ASAP to avoid paying ridiculous prices. Even though you have a ticket still try to get to the party early to avoid lines unless you have a table.
5) If you must attend a celebrity hosted party, verify the celeb is actually going to be there through Instagram or Twitter. There will be TONS of false advertisements for celeb hosted parties.
6) Uptown is where all the action happens on College Street there is cheap parking behind Ruth Chris on Tryon Street, you can walk over to the action and avoid gridlocked College Street. Stick to parties that are uptown. Harris Blvd., Sugar creek and Albemarle are not where you want to be! You could also park in Southend catch the Charlotte Light Rail, Lynx and Uber back to your car if late.
7) Beware of fly by night promoters that pop up during CIAA. I made a mistake of purchasing from a promoter/group I never heard of for a 2 Chainz Tent (hosted by Kenny Johnson, One Productions and Face Jay and the Tent) event that ended up overselling the event. I lost $45! Trusted local promoters: King Entertainment, Moxie Society, A-List Entetainment and Herb and Felicia Gray events.
8) Be prepared to see some of the MOST interesting fashion you have seen in your life. Just accept it snap a picture (or not) and move on lol.
9) CIAA is not an accurate depiction of how Charlotte really is, so don’t start planning your move to Charlotte based on CIAA.
10) If you are just looking for food after the party, there are breakfast after parties or you can go to the Diner on Tryon, but get there before the parties end, line can be extremely long. If you need something fast. Check out of my picks for restaurant options for Charlotte.
11) Hotel Venues and non-traditional club/bar venues tend to have a limited alcohol selection for parties.
12) CIAA official events at the Convention Center are free. You can catch celebs there for picture signings, Yolanda Adams show and mini concerts. Check theciaa.com for the official schedule.
13) In the market for a Cat Daddy? There will not be a shortage at CIAA. Good luck and beware of the crazies lol
14) The police are out in full force for this event tons of police checks so don’t drink and drive (ever)!
15) If you can't get into a party or partying on a budget, hang outside in the Epicentre.