Barry Saunders

NBA leaves, and Charlotte’s got a lot less – Saunders

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, left, and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, right, pose for a photo during a news conference to announce Charlotte, N.C., as the site of the 2017 NBA All-Star basketball game June 23, 2015.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, left, and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, right, pose for a photo during a news conference to announce Charlotte, N.C., as the site of the 2017 NBA All-Star basketball game June 23, 2015. AP

Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte.

The NBA announced last week that it is pulling its cash-cow basketball bacchanalia known as All-Star Weekend from the city, and Gov. Pat McCrory responded by accusing the NBA of “P.C. B.S.”

Egads, Gubna! What about the children?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver warned from the opening tip-off in March – when the General Assembly foisted HB2 upon the state in a one-day special session – that the league might dribble its All-Star basketballs some place other than Charlotte unless major changes were made to the cynical, regressive, rights-denying House Bill 2.

That’s what it is before you even get to the part about protecting the rights of LGBT citizens.

Because of the attention and outrage over the bathroom portion of the bill, people have seemingly forgotten about the parts that initially denied them the right to sue in state court for workplace discrimination – the legislature changed that part, thank goodness – and took away municipalities’ rights to set and raise minimum wages, among other things.

McCrory’s radio interview response to the NBA’s decision to redirect to another place the international spotlight and the millions of dollars from the city that he formerly mayored was Churchillian in its measured statesmanship. Other states, he said, are as bad as we are.

Oy!

Charlotte will miss the glamour that the Feb. 17-19 weekend of festivities would have brought to the city, as well as the civic pride of hosting such an event. It’ll also miss the ca-chinging of cash registers from Uptown to Monroe as hordes of hyperglandular millionaires with their friends, groupies and free-spending fans take their money and glamour to an as-yet unannounced replacement city.

Restaurateurs, hoteliers, shoeshine boys, parking lot owners and attendants who represent the human casualties in those figures are in mourning. But you might be able to find some people who are glad to see the event pull out of the Queen City.

One Charlotte hotel spokesman said he is still awaiting from the NBA an official letter stating that the game has definitely been pulled before canceling its room contracts.

When I spoke with state Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte on Friday, he said, “Emotions are running really high about this. I’m sensing a lot of frustration – and ‘frustration’ is putting it mildly. There are a lot of people who follow basketball but don’t follow politics, and now those worlds have collided in a really negative way. They can’t understand the carnage that’s being inflicted upon our state” by political leaders.

Sen. Jackson cited figures from the Charlotte City Council and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority showing that the city alone will miss out on $60 million in direct spending and more than $7 million in lost tax revenues. I know the last time I stayed in a Charlotte hotel, I paid more in room taxes than I used to pay for a room – especially if my friend Linda Kay was the night clerk at the Rock ’em, Sock ’em Motel in Rockingham and the manager wasn’t lurking around.

Restaurateurs, hoteliers, shoeshine boys, parking lot owners and attendants – not to mention the party girls and boys who make their living being friendly to deep-pocketed out-of-towners, and who represent the human casualties in those figures – are in mourning. But you might be able to find some people who are glad to see the event pull out of the Queen City.

Like who, you ask?

I’ll bet there is a Kannapolis chiropractor who can now take Punkin and the kids to the California Pizza Kitchen or a podiatrist from Waxhaw who now will be able to take Sweet Thang and the family for that long-promised weekender to Charlotte without worrying about the room rates being jacked up astronomically because of demand. (They don’t just do that when the CIAA comes to town, do they?)

Thanks, Gov. McCrory and General Assembly, for looking out for the little guy.

Having solved, with HB2, a problem that hadn’t previously existed, the state’s leadership is reportedly setting its sights on another troubling issue that endangers the state’s children: changing Charlotte’s nickname from the “Queen” City.

So hush, hush, sweet Charlotte: even though you will have to change your official tourism website from www.charlottesgotalot.com to charlottesgotalotless.com, you’ve still got the CIAA Tournament. That Charlotte cash cow starts mooing the day after the NBA All-Star Game weekend, and it will never leave you.

  Comments