SBD/February 28, 2013/Colleges

CIAA Hopes Fans Attend More Games During Conference Tournament

New Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Commissioner Jacqie Carpenter “hopes fans start attending more games, rather than just the parties associated" with the conference's basketball tournament to "help the historically black conference erase a $200,000 deficit,” according to Steve Reed of the AP. The tournament tips off this week and “the 200,000 fans that will descend on Charlotte want to be a part of all the events -- though many stay away from the games held” at Time Warner Cable Arena. Carpenter said that the goal is “to get out of the red ‘within a couple of years’ and hopes the conference can get a jumpstart with this week's ticket sales.” The entertainment has “often been better than the basketball: The CIAA tournament routinely features Grammy-winning artists, but has been short on NBA-caliber talent.” When Carpenter took over last summer, the CIAA “faced a $500,000 debt as a result of the lack of ticket sales, a decline in sponsorships, and unexpected legal fees.” All 12 schools “donated $25,000 to cut that deficit by more than half.” Carpenter said that the CIAA “needs to become ‘more fiscally responsible’ and creative to make the tournament more attractive to sponsors.” She said that the conference also has “trimmed unnecessary travel expenses for its staff this year and cut down on media credentials to save money.” Reed noted the CIAA's contract with Charlotte to host the tournament “expires in 2014.” Carpenter said that much of this spring “will involve discussions about the future of the tournament,” which has been held in Charlotte for the past eight years. She “mentioned Raleigh and Winston-Salem as potential candidates, along with renewing in Charlotte” (AP, 2/26).

PLAN OF ACTION: MOBILE MARKETER’s Chantal Tode noted Coca-Cola has been a corporate sponsor of the CIAA Tournament and is the “official soft drink” of the event. Coke this year is “offering the Enjoy More CIAA Coke Zero mobile app,” which was "designed to make attendees aware of all of the events happening between games and around Charlotte.” Coca-Cola created the browser-based app, which “works across multiple devices.” Features include an “event schedule and interactive map,” and there also are “push notifications to alert fans where to head next for fun activities.” App users “will have access to exclusive nightlife events, with a chance to win VIP passes.” The marketing effort behind the sponsorship “also includes a Twitter tie-in, with fans able to follow the action and share their experiences using the hashtag #enjoymoreCIAA” (MOBILEMARKETER.com, 2/27).
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