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‘CIAA Tournament Is Going to Bring a Lot of Wealth to the City’: Why Baltimore’s Black-Owned Restaurants Expect a Windfall from the Annual HBCU Sports Conference

If last year’s Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tourney is any indicator, Black-owned restaurants in Baltimore can expect to profit from this year’s annual HBCU tournament that is playing out at the CFG Bank Arena.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – FEBRUARY 26: DTLR’s Fadam Got Da Juice onstage at CIAA Schools Stephow Stepoff for Fan Fest Day 2 during the 2022 CIAA Basketball Tournament Day 5 at Baltimore Convention Center on February 26, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland (Photo by Brian Stukes/Getty Images)

The 2023 CIAA tournament, which runs Feb. 21-25, is a 12-men and 12-women college basketball event in Baltimore that brought in an attendance of about 66,000 last year, The Baltimore Sun reported.

CIAA is a college athletic conference affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Division II level. CIAA institutions mostly consist of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


Simultaneously, this year the city is hosting a Black-Owned Restaurant Tour, nicknamed BORT for short, in partnership with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and the host committee for the CIAA tournament.

“It’s a big week for Baltimore and for the state of Maryland. In 2022, the first year of hosting the tournament, it was a $19.6 million economic impact during a pandemic year and also during a time period there was some resistance about coming to a new destination,” Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, said, according to local station WBAL.

Before Baltimore, Maryland, CIAA had been hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past 15 consecutive years. CIAA generated more than $656 million in economic impact and produced more than $402 million in direct spending for Charlotte.

Why Baltimore

The Baltimore Metropolitan Area is the 11th-largest Black population in the United States, having more than 800,000 people who identify as Black; that is about 30 percent of the metro population, according to Black Demographic. 

How Baltimore’s Restaurants will Benefit

“We’re going to get tens of thousands of folks who want to eat, that want to have fun, that want to be in good atmospheres and good environments,” Baltimore City Council president Nick Mosby told CBS News Baltimore.

Participating eateries include Teavolve Cafe, Bar One, Unity Bar and Restaurant and Hood Fellas Bistro.

“For the restaurant owners to get that shot, that’s not Christmas, that’s not Thanksgiving, no major holiday. So I know for a fact that the CIAA Tournament coming here in this city is just going to bring a lot of wealth to the city,” Peter Thomas, owner of Bar One Baltimore, told WMAR.

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