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Welcome to Charlotte! 

Originally written by Vance Cariaga & CL's Editorial Staff, April 2, 1994

When the NCAA Final Four came to Charlotte, the visionaries from the city's Chamber and Tourism nexus belatedly realized that all those visitors would want easy access to post-game bars and such places in the downtown area. Oops. In 1994, Uptown Charlotte, as we know it today, had little in the way of entertainment options. Panicky boosters, applying their philosophy that appearance is everything, rushed to jerry-rig an entire fake nightclub district in empty buildings on Tryon Street for one weekend — so tournament goers wouldn't think Charlotte was dull.

At CL, we thought it exquisitely absurd and pretentious that boosters were so desperate to impress they were willing to pretend the city was something it wasn't. Thus, one of our most talked-about issues, and one of our finest group efforts, came to be.

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The cover featured the nighttime skyline of New York City, under the headline, "Welcome to Charlotte!" Subtitled "Final Four Fans, We'll Do Anything To Impress You," the issue was a wicked spoof of the boosters' sham. For example, we ran a guide to area landmarks, each written up in breathless touristese, and illustrated with a photo of a world-famous attraction. My favorites were probably the write-up for Freedom Park, illustrated with a picture of the Grand Canyon, and the blurb for James K. Polk's birthplace, which was accompanied by a photo of the Eiffel Tower.

The issue hit the street the day many basketball fans were showing up, but not many Final Four goers got to see it. The boosters were outraged and panic-stricken, so naturally some Chamber employees took every single copy of CL from Uptown boxes and dumped them. At least, that's what Chamber employees told us. And of course, we wrote about that in the next issue.

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