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After HB2 repeal, Charlotte could host 2019 All-Star Game – but it’s ‘not a done deal yet’

Gov. Cooper says HB2 replacement bill is a compromise

Gov. Roy Cooper hosted a press conference after signing a compromise bill passed by he General Assembly on Thursday that replaces House Bill 2 but restricts anti-discrimination ordinances in cities and counties.
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Gov. Roy Cooper hosted a press conference after signing a compromise bill passed by he General Assembly on Thursday that replaces House Bill 2 but restricts anti-discrimination ordinances in cities and counties.

Following last week’s repeal of House Bill 2, Charlotte is once again eligible to host the 2019 NBA All-Star Game.

Addressing the media after the league’s board of governor’s meeting Friday afternoon, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Charlotte hosting “is not a done deal yet.” The league, Silver said, will develop an anti-discrimination policy that will have to be signed onto by participating groups in Charlotte.

“If those requirements are met, it’s our expectation the All-Star Game will be there in 2019,” Silver said.

The NBA, which relocated its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over HB2, is the latest sports organization to say it is reconsidering a return to North Carolina after state lawmakers last week repealed the controversial measure. Both the NCAA and the ACC, which had also relocated championships out of the state over HB2, also said they may return.

Echoing the concerns of many who say the HB2 repeal compromise does not go far enough, Silver added that just because HB2 was repealed, it “does not mean fundamental issues are resolved” as they pertain to protection for the LGBT community.

The new law, HB142, restricts cities and counties from passing their own anti-discrimination ordinances through 2020. The repeal deal is not everything the league could have hoped for, but it is an incremental change, Silver said.

The NBA can be a “force for change,” Silver said. Hosting the All-Star Game in Charlotte, he continued, could be a powerful way for the league to put on display the qualities it values, including equality, diversity and inclusion.

“There was a broad consensus (among team owners) that the right thing to do was to return to North Carolina,” Silver said. “Our decision was guided in part by the fact that we have strong roots in North Carolina.”

The Charlotte Hornets would be the team hosting the All-Star Game at the Spectrum Center. In a statement issued following Silver’s comments, the Hornets said they supported the decisions by the NBA, NCAA and ACC to reconsider a return to Charlotte following the HB2 repeal.

As self-described “stewards of the arena” responsible for filling seats at the Spectrum Center even during non-basketball events, Hornets management has said the job became difficult after HB2 was passed and artists like Maroon 5 started canceling their North Carolina shows.

“The Charlotte Hornets and Hornets Sports & Entertainment remain opposed to discrimination of any form. As we always have, we will continue to provide an inclusive environment for anyone attending an event at Spectrum Center,” the team’s statement Friday read.

The NBA last summer pulled its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over opposition to House Bill 2, which restricts legal protections for LGBT individuals. The controversial measure also mandated that transgender people in government-run buildings use restrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate, rather than the one that matches their gender identity. Sports leagues and businesses alike criticized HB2 as discriminatory toward LGBT individuals.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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