Unveiling the Perfect Location: Durham is a Potential Host for the CIAA Football Championships

Durham County Memorial Stadium is the potential spot Durham is proposing for the CIAA football championships. (Photo provided by Alex Giblin)

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

By Kinslee Braddy

Perhaps it is Durham’s vibrant culture or palpable energy that has allowed it to emerge as a hub for numerous sports championships. Whether college championships or minor league baseball, the city’s ties to athletics continue to evolve. The next bid for connecting the city to a sports community lies in the hands of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Deputy Director of the Durham Sports Commission, Kaila’Shea Menendez, believes Durham would be the perfect fit for consecutive CIAA football championships in 2025, 2026 and 2027.

“What’s great about Durham is that we have a local community that is really tapped in that really rallies around sporting events and gets excited when sports activity comes to the city,”  Menendez says. “I think sports has always been at that core and we just will continue to build on that and to grow on that.” 

While Durham has hosted the event before, the city has grown immensely since then.  Should the city receive the go-ahead to host the championships,  Menendez emphasizes how important it is for the Durham Sports Commission and the community to be in agreement.

“Logistically it’s making sure that we are all on the same page to be able to put forward a great experience for not only the student-athletes but the fans and the spectators as well,”  Menendez says. “It will be getting everybody involved from a community perspective from an internal team perspective and making sure that we’re tracking on the various timelines and that we can provide an exceptional experience while they’re here.”

Due to the proximity of both North Carolina Central and Duke University, numerous student athletes call the Bull City home. The Durham Sports Commission believes that bringing a championship like this would help build critical relationships between Durham youth and college athletes.

“We want to get these athletes in our community to touch the youth who are in our community through some sort of activity and so that’s going to be one of the things that we really look forward to doing,”  Menendez says.

Aside from the sports community, bringing a HBCU championship to Durham would also help highlight the city’s different cultures. 

“The awareness of the diversity that we have in Durham is something I think is really important,” Menendez says. “This is an HBCU conference and, you know, we really do celebrate the differences that are among us and we hope that the CIAA will feel welcome and included here in Durham and in our community.”

The Durham Sports Commission is hoping that bringing a CIAA football championship will both strengthen  and unite the community.The decision for the CIAA football championship host site will be announced in May 2024. “We really hang our hat on Durham sports. I would say as a whole it’s the champion’s passion, the champion’s competitiveness and the champion’s sportsmanship. We are a destination that really embraces its foundation of diversity and grit and innovation,”  Menendez says.