Loss of CAA tourney leaves void for business owners - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Loss of CAA tourney leaves void for business owners

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Business owners are looking forward to a boost in sales this weekend, thanks to the CAA tournament. But it is also the end of a long run with the tourney moving to Baltimore next year.

The Richmond Coliseum has been home to the CAA tournament for 24 years, bringing almost $6 million into the local economy. The relocation is leaving a void in local fans' hearts and local business owners' wallets.

The posters are hanging. The staff is getting ready. All in time for tip-off of what could be the final CAA tournament at the Richmond Coliseum.

"There's a certain amount of hype that comes with the whole tournament coming to town," explains T-Miller's General Manager Joe Rimkis.

It brings hype and dollars, especially for downtown hotels and restaurants.

"It is a huge boost," Rimkis said. "The last three years this weekend has broken records for T-Miller's every year."

That's because teams, bands, cheerleaders, family and fans take over.

"We feed the teams breakfast," Rimkis added. "We feed them lunch. We see them go off and beat on each other for a day or two and they come back and they've either won or lost so we deal with them after that too."

The loss of that tradition will leave a substantial void in the sports bar's bottom line.

"We're broken hearted," Rimkis told us. "Certainly from a business perspective we look at potentially losing a nice piece of business that comes in the middle of March before the wedding season and after the Christmas season."

But Jack Berry with the Richmond Metropolitan Convention Center and Visitors Bureau says there's no reason to give up hope. When the CAA tournament bid comes up in three years, they're going to aggressively try to bring it back to Richmond.

In the meantime, the agency is looking to replace it most likely with another sporting event.

"We still go out to try to find more business because we have 18,000 hotel rooms to fill and each individual sport helps that but we do need of course more and more business," Berry explained.

Those working downtown are trying to stay positive.

"There may have been stuff  that we turned away because we didn't have the opportunity because of CAA, so it's exciting to see what the new stuff will be," Lyndsey Wharton, with the Hilton Garden Inn added.

Wharton is hoping the addition of the Redskins training camp might help balance things out by shifting some income to a later part of the year, in years to come.

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