The National Basketball Association has concerns about N.C. House Bill 2, which prevents local governments from enacting local anti-discrimination ordinances and calls for transgender residents to use the public restrooms of their biological sex. The league says it could affect the playing of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte.
An NBA statement last week said the league does “not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game.”
But what about other sports events in the state? The Carolina Panthers would like to one day host a Super Bowl. Raleigh’s PNC Arena recently hosted two rounds of the 2016 NCAA tournament and would like to host a future NCAA basketball regional. The Carolina Hurricanes have hosted the NHL All-Star Weekend and NHL Entry Draft.
“I am concerned about the impact that House Bill 2 could potentially have on sports tourism in the region,” said Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
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The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance worked in conjunction with N.C. State, city and county officials to bring the NCAA tournament to Raleigh this month for the second time in three years. The alliance also has played a major role in securing such events as the College Cup – the NCAA soccer championship – at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“I have seen the statements from national governing bodies expressing their concerns,” Dupree said. “As of now we (the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance) have had no event cancellations. And I personally have not received any inquiries on this issue from sports event owners or planners.
“There are a lot of unknowns at this point. Of course we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
A lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court challenging the law, although Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed it into law, says news reports are “distorting the truth” and no rights have been taken away from N.C. cities. N.C. attorney general Roy Cooper, McCrory’s opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial election, said Tuesday his office would not defend the law in court.
CREDO Action, a social change network, has launched an online petition calling on the NCAA to “stop hosting NCAA events in North Carolina until its discriminatory anti-LGBT laws are repealed.”
The petition said: “An organization responsible for the welfare of the nation’s college student-athletes should not host or participate in events in any state that officially sanctions discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference, which is headquartered in Greensboro, released a statement Tuesday that said the league was “committed to its mission of equality and diversity.”
“In conjunction with our schools, we will continue to monitor all current events to ensure an inclusive and nondiscriminatory environment for all,” the ACC said.
The U.S. Golf Association, which conducts the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open championships, held those events at Pinehurst in back-to-back weeks in 2014. The USGA has scheduled the 2017 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Pinehurst and the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur at Old Chatham Golf Club outside Durham.
Asked if House Bill 2 might cause the USGA to consider rescheduling or moving the events, a USGA spokesman said in a statement: “We are excited about the opportunity to conduct the 2019 U.S. Senior Amateur at Old Chatham Golf Club as well as all the previously announced championship sites in North Carolina. At the same time, the USGA is committed to ensuring an inclusive environment at all of our championships.”
The spokesman said the USGA would continue to “monitor and assess” the situation in North Carolina.
Two of the state’s major league franchises – the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Hornets – issued statements last week without a direct reference to House Bill 2.
The Hornets said the team was “opposed to discrimination in any form” and said it has always sought to “provide an inclusive environment.” A statement from the Hurricanes and PNC Arena said, “We are devoted to providing a welcoming and respectful environment for all fans. We stand against all forms of discrimination.”
In Georgia, governor Nathan Deal on Monday vetoed a “religious liberty” bill that has been called anti-LGBT. Among those opposing the bill were the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks.
The Carolina Panthers have not issued a statement in response to N.C. House Bill 2, and a team spokesman told The Charlotte Observer there would be no comment.
NASCAR will have no comment, a spokesman said.
The Atlanta City Council on Tuesday invited the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Weekend to Atlanta “due to the passage of House Bill 2, a measure that discriminates against members of the LGBT community.”
The NBA responded by saying the league is “hopeful that the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina can work through their differences far in advance of the 2017 All-Star Game,” The Observer reported.