Charlotte has already experienced a major sports-related loss over North Carolina’s House Bill 2 with the relocation of the NBA All-Star Game. Now the law could strip the city of some future conference title games as well – including the ACC Championship football game set for Dec. 3 at Bank of America Stadium.
If the Atlantic Coast Conference pulls games, it would be the latest blow from the controversial LGBT law, which the NCAA cited Monday night when it announced it was moving seven championship games from North Carolina during this academic year.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority estimates the 2015 ACC football championship here had a total economic impact of $32.4 million, making it one of the city’s biggest annual events. The game’s been held in Charlotte since 2010 and is under contract to be held in the city through 2019.
And on Tuesday, the Charlotte-based Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association also said it’s assessing how to move forward with hosting its basketball tournament in Charlotte in light of the NCAA’s decision.
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“The NCAA’s announcement to relocate its seven championships demonstrates the ongoing, negative impact that HB2 has on the state of North Carolina. This continues to be of concern to the CIAA with eight of our 12 member-institutions residing in the state and our headquarters residing in Charlotte,” CIAA commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said in a statement.
In a statement hours after the NCAA’s decision, ACC commissioner John Swofford said HB2 was already scheduled to be “thoroughly discussed” at this week’s ACC Council of Presidents meetings, which take place Tuesday night through Wednesday at Clemson University.
Swofford offered no indication whether the ACC will follow the NCAA’s lead, and NCAA President Mark Emmert told the Associated Press Tuesday the league isn’t pressuring the ACC either way.
But Swofford has said the NBA’s decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte could affect where the ACC decides to host its events. And in Monday’s statement, he did reiterate the ACC’s “longstanding commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.”
He offered his own opinion of HB2, too: “On a personal note, it’s time for this bill to be repealed as it’s counter to basic human rights.”
A spokesperson for the ACC, which is based in Greensboro, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The NCAA’s most recent decision affects games this year in Cary, Greensboro and Greenville. But the announcement raises questions about the first and second round NCAA men’s basketball tournament games scheduled to be played in Charlotte in 2018. The city also hosts the Belk Bowl every December, which has to be certified by the NCAA.
The NCAA and the NBA have made it clear they feel that North Carolina’s existing laws make hosting in an inclusive environment difficult. HB2, signed in March, requires transgender people to use restrooms in government facilities that correspond with the gender on their birth certificates. HB2 also sets a statewide definition of nondiscrimination that excludes sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We’re proud of our longstanding relationship with the NCAA and hope we’ll have the opportunity to host these types of prestigious events in future years in Charlotte,” CRVA chief executive Tom Murray said.
If the ACC does decide to follow the NCAA, along with football in Charlotte, the following championships would be affected: women’s basketball (Greensboro), baseball (Durham), cross country (Raleigh), women’s soccer (Cary), swimming and diving (Greensboro), fencing (Durham), wrestling (Raleigh), women’s golf (Greensboro), men’s golf (New London), men’s and women’s tennis (Cary), softball (Chapel Hill).
The NBA this summer said it was relocating its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans. The CRVA has estimated the festivities of the weekend would have had an economic impact of up to $100 million.
Another major sporting event in Charlotte is the CIAA’s basketball tournament, which has taken place here since 2006. The CRVA estimates its 2015 economic impact to be $55.6 million.
The CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., said a possible relocation of its games is at the discretion of its board of directors.
“The CIAA Board will continue to discuss and determine how to move forward for the collective interest of our student-athletes and stakeholders and for future of our conference. The CIAA is committed in providing the best experience for our student-athletes and creating a respectful and inclusive culture for our diverse membership and stakeholders,” said McWilliams, the commissioner.
Charlotte last month submitted a bid to host NCAA men’s basketball tournament games at the Spectrum Center (the former Time Warner Cable Arena) for three years: 2020-2022. The league said this week it has pushed the decision about those games from December to sometime next year.