The NBA has officially selected New Orleans to replace Charlotte as the host of the 2017 All-Star Game.
The NBA announced in July that it was moving the All-Star Game out of Charlotte over concerns about North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which limits legal protections for LGBT people. The NBA has assured the Charlotte Hornets, however, that the 2019 event will return to the city if issues involving the measure are resolved.
This is the third time hosting since 2008 for New Orleans, the city that landed the original Charlotte Hornets franchise in 2002 when then-owner George Shinn moved the team after an arena dispute. Charlotte hasn’t hosted since 1990, and experts say the weekend would have had an economic impact of nearly $100 million.
“New Orleans is a world-class destination for sports and entertainment, and we are very appreciative that the city is once again hosting our All-Star festivities,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement released by the league on Friday.
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The league said it’s partnering with the New Orleans Pelicans (the renamed Hornets) and the New Orleans Saints to provide “financial and other ongoing support of the flood rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts,” from Hurricane Katrina, which struck in 2005.
The last time New Orleans hosted was in 2014, and the event drew almost 55,000 visitors.
The game takes place on Feb. 19, which falls during the first weekend of Mardi Gras parades but before the bigger ones the following weekend before Fat Tuesday, Feb. 28. It will be at the Smoothie King Center, which is the home of the Pelicans.
New Orleans and Shreveport are the only places in Louisiana that have legislation that prohibits private employers from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This past spring, however, the Louisiana Senate rejected a bill to protect LGBT people from discrimination in most workplaces, the Times-Picayune reported.
“By moving the 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans, the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver have sent a clear message to lawmakers in North Carolina and across the country that discrimination against LGBTQ people has consequences and will not be tolerated,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group.
But Gov. Pat McCrory has said moving the game to New Orleans doesn’t make sense because Louisiana is one of 22 states suing the federal government over the Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities in public schools that corresponds with their gender identity.
“This is another classic example of politically-correct hypocrisy gone mad,” McCrory’s communications director Josh Ellis said in a statement Friday.
Charlotte’s business community worked behind the scenes for months to keep the game in the city, but that effort proved unsuccessful after the legislature made only limited changes to HB2 this summer. McCrory has said that he and North Carolina legislative leaders had a deal with the NBA on HB2 changes, but the legislative changes never came to fruition.
Also on Friday, Silver said on CNBC that the decision to move the All-Star Game from Charlotte was difficult, but one based on business. He also said that he was “not in favor” of having the game in North Carolina with HB2 as it stood.
The Associated Press contributed.