CIAA 2012 Parties: Building the List

There's great anticipation for the week of February 27 through March 4
A tent was erected on the Pavilion at EpiCentre, so rain didn’t stop hundreds of people from seeing Doug E. Fresh perform at a day party during CIAA weekend last year.

For the fourth year in a row, I’m compiling a list of events for what is undoubtedly the most party-filled week in Charlotte: CIAA Week a.k.a. the week the CIAA Tournament takes place. If you’re an event planner or party promoter and are holding an event during the week of February 27 through March 4, 2012 in Charlotte, click here to submit your event (it’s free) to be included in Charlotte magazine’s comprehensive list. The site,, goes live first week in February and will be updated with new events through the start of the tournament.

The 2012 CIAA Tournament marks the seventh consecutive year the weeklong series of college basketball games is being held in the Queen City. CIAA, which stands for Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, is celebrating its 100th year as a conference this year (the basketball tournament itself is in its 67th year). The CIAA and the Queen City have been a perfect marriage as the tournament has grown tremendously during its run here, setting attendance and revenue records each year: 190,000 people and an economic impact of $44.3 million to the local economy for the week in 2011, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

But the notoriety and appeal of the CIAA Tournament has become something of an enigma. Thousands of people who visit Charlotte each year during that last week in February/first week in March actually don’t know much about the conference. Many of them don’t know that the CIAA is comprised of twelve historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including our local school, Johnson C. Smith University. Many of them never go see one of the more than twenty basketball games that are played between the men and women’s teams over the course of the week at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Many of them just come to party. So that’s why I give the people what they want, and will once again be compiling the list of more than 100 parties and events.

To ensure you take in the uniqueness of the experience, you should attend at least one “day party,” which there will be dozens to choose from on that Friday and Saturday in the first weekend in March. The most fun I had at a party, by far, last year was at the Do Day Dougie day party Eddietainment put on at Pavilion at EpiCentre, which featured a party-rocking performance by the legendary Doug E. Fresh (after the crowd had been warmed up by DJ Shogun). Oh, yeah, celebrities coming to Charlotte for parties the week of the tournament is also something that’s become an annual tradition.

Partying is good and all, but you should also make plans to attend at least one official CIAA event, whether it is a basketball game, the Health and Wellness Symposium, McDonald’s Step Show, the CIAA 100th Anniversary Celebration featuring The O'Jays, or one of the many great events they put on at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of the CIAA Fan Experience. See, the majority of the parties held that week at uptown bars, nightclubs, and hotel ballrooms, are by independent promoters, which is fine because many of them create a great experience (some don’t), but keep in mind that only the official CIAA events, those put on by the league, have their proceeds go toward college scholarships.

If you still don't comprehend the magnitude of the popularity of the CIAA experience in Charlotte, just click here to see how much people are chatting about it on Twitter, even though we're still a month and a half away from the start of the festivities.

Stay tuned!

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Categories: Dusk Till Dawn