People attending this year’s CIAA tournament spent an estimated $25.5 million during the five-day period and had an economic impact of $38.2 million, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA).

While the number of CIAA visitors was about the same as last year, median spending per person increased from $695 in 2008 to $760 this year, the CRVA reported.

“These results are remarkable and show the great strength of the CIAA fan base and the strong partnership the fans and Charlotte have developed to have such excellent results amid trying economic times,” said Tim Newman, CEO of the CRVA.

About 180,000 people attended official CIAA function. This does not include those who attended parties and events not sanctioned by the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Even with flat attendance, tournament officials said they were thrilled. They noted that some major sporting events have seen double-digit decreases in attendance since the economic recession began.

“As I’ve said before, the CIAA fans are the best in the world and they continue to amaze me with their support for this conference,” said CIAA Commissioner Leon Kerry. “We work very hard to make sure the Tournament and affiliated activities offer something for everyone and we are constantly updating the ‘CIAA Experience’ so that fans will attend year-after-year.”

Other findings:

The CIAA Ford Fan Experience drew more than 32,000 fans over a three-day period.

The CIAA Tournament Web site ( drew 141,818 unique visitors, a 37 percent increase from last year.

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