Cary stands to lose millions with NCAA, ACC games pulled from NC
Posted September 14, 2016
Cary, N.C. — With the NCAA and ACC announcing this week that championship games will be moved from the state of North Carolina in protest of House Bill 2, the mayor of Cary is calling for change as the city stands to lose millions of dollars.
In 2016-17, four NCAA and two ACC tournaments will no longer be held in Cary because of HB2, which bars cities and counties from passing laws that protect gay and transgender people from discrimination and which requires transgender people to use bathrooms in schools and other public buildings that correspond to their birth gender.
The law was passed in response to a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed people to use the bathroom that corresponded with their gender identity.
Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht on Wednesday called HB2 a “political game” and said it is time for state legislators to reevaluate their decision.
“Before the Charlotte decision, I did not hear of any issues related to bathrooms. Now there are political ads by the governor defending HB2 as a safety law. This is politics in its purest form plain and simple,” he said in a statement.
“Regardless of one’s views of this bathroom issue, it is harming every single person in North Carolina through lost revenue, lost business and a negative perception which has unknown implications.”
The six events that will be moved from Cary are some of the largest held at the city’s venues, and town officials said the loss of each will impact visitor spending and the sale of hotel rooms:
- The ACC Women’s Soccer Championship, which was to be held Nov. 4 and 6 at WakeMed Soccer Park was expected to draw 3,000 attendees and result in the sale of 900 hotel room nights. The loss of the event will cost the town $210,000 in direct visitor spending.
- The NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup, which was to be held Dec. 2 and 4, was expected to draw 20,000 attendees and result in the sale of 1,200 hotel room nights. The loss of the event will cost the town $440,000 in direct visitor spending.
- The ACC Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championship, which was to be held April 26 to April 30 was expected to draw 2,000 guests and result in the sale of 1,320 hotel room nights. The loss of the event will cost the town $285,000 in direct visitor spending.
- The NCAA Division III Men and Women’s Tennis Championship, which was to be held May 22 to May 27, was expected to draw 700 attendees over six days and result in the sale of 900 hotel room nights. The loss of the event will cost the town $360,000 in direct visitor spending.
- The NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship, which was to be held May 26 and 28, was expected to draw 8,000 attendees and result in the sale of 1,000 hotel room nights. The loss of the event will cost the town $400,000 in direct visitor spending.
- The NCAA Division II Baseball World Series, which was to be held May 27 through June 3, was expected to draw 12,500 attendees over eight days and result in the sale of 2,200 hotel room nights. The loss of the event is expected to cost the town $840,000 in direct visitor spending.
Weinbrecht said conservative estimates place the total loss at about $2.5 million.
Marie Maguire with the Town of Cary said that the ACC Men and Women’s Cross Country Championship scheduled for Oct. 28 will continue as planned.
Maguire said Wednesday that “considerable work” had already gone into preparing for the Women’s College Cup in December. She said the field had been over-seeded in preparation for the game and staff had already begun entering purchase orders for supplies and services for the event.
Tickets had already been sold for the December event, including 7,000 to 450 youth girls showcase teams.
Renovations were underway for the town's tennis park and expansions are planned for WakeMed Soccer Park to allow the facilities to handle larger events.
"We are still going forward with the improvements, hoping that we can get HB2 repealed and we can continue to bring these events to Cary," Weinbrecht said.
In letters to NCAA and ACC officials, Weinbrecht said that the town will not attempt to recoup lost revenue from the canceled events, saying "we will not be a party to such actions despite our disappointment in losing several hosting opportunities."
Cary has hosted 24 NCAA championships and 33 ACC championships since 2002 and is a designated NCAA Championship City.
“Cary shares the NCAA’s and ACC’s values of inclusiveness, and we have an impeccable record of providing events that welcome everyone,” Weinbrecht said. “Unfortunately, because of HB2, the perception nationwide and globally is that North Carolina is no longer a progressive state but instead is moving backwards. Many label our state as discriminatory, which is embarrassing.”