Local News

After NBA pulls All-Star Game, tourism groups worry about future of NC events

Posted July 22, 2016 9:43 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:38 p.m. EDT

— Opponents of North Carolina's House Bill 2 on Friday said the National Basketball Association's decision to pull its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte was a "deep and preventable" loss.

On Thursday, the NBA announced it would relocate the 2017 game from Charlotte, citing discrimination in HB2, which requires transgender people use public bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates. Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said the bill is the worst anti-LGBTQ bill in the country.

North Carolina has been the focus of the nation and in-state criticism every single day since this awful law was passed," Sgro said. "And the warning bells about this law have been going off since before it was even signed."

Sgro estimated the losses from the game could top $100 million.

Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that the NBA's decision is "PC BS."

"It has nothing to do with discrimination, because if it had to do with discrimination, the NBA would be canceling their games in China right now and the NBA would not be playing in over 20 states that have the exact same laws that we have," he said.

McCrory also asserted Friday that the "political left in Charlotte" generated negative attention over the bill and influenced the NBA's decision.

"It was meant to be used as a distraction against the incredible economic success that we're having in North Carolina," he said. "In fact, today our unemployment rate dropped below 5 percent. I'm still not sure what this issue has to do with corporation or a sports and entertainment (event) wanting to come to our state. It's a lot of propaganda and false information that has been directed toward our state. And I'm going to call people out on the misinformation that's been directed toward us."

After the NBA bowed out, though, tourism groups are worried about other organizations and events following suit.

Officials at the Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau are currently working on bids to bring 62 NCAA tournament events to the region between 2018 through 2022, including the regional tournament for men's basketball.

Dennis Edwards, CEO of the bureau, is now concerned that the NCAA could follow the NBA's lead; he said the NBA's decision could give an "easy out" to groups that are on the fence about coming to the state.

All 62 events could generate up to $30 million for the city of a four-year period.

"Now with the NBA's decision, I think it may give them a bit more cover to possibly make some tough decisions and take NC completely out of consideration," Edwards said. "We hope that's not the case."

Any time you get a national story like this, it's definitely going to give us a black eye once again," Edwards said. "Not only for Charlotte but the entire state of North Carolina."

Economic losses from the loss of conventions and conferences in Raleigh and Wake County could top $40 million. Officials haven't yet seen a big impact from the loss of sporting events, but Edwards said he believes it's only a matter of time before that happens.

Recently, the US Ultimate Frisbee College Nationals Tournament announced that it wouldn't come back to Wake County next year due to House Bill 2. Officials estimate it generated $400,000 of economic impact a year ago.

"Groups that are on the fence on whether or not they should reconsider coming to NC, I think this gives them an easy out now to just fall in line with the NBA," Edwards said.

The NCAA has also enacted anti-discrimination measures for any school hosting playoff events. Schools wishing to host championship events must now prove they don't discriminate with their facilities and operations through a 7-page anti-discrimination questionaire. North Carolina schools and cities are currently scheduled to host nine NCAA championship events in the next two years.

The NBA released a statement about the decision that reads in part, “Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change. We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view."

In the statement, the NBA said they hope to have Charlotte host the 2019 All-Star Game.

“We look forward to re-starting plans for our All-Star festivities in Charlotte for 2019 provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter."