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Charlotte’s out as a contender to host ESPN’s 2017-2018 X Games

Soldiers unfurl a large American flag near the entrance to Turn 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway prior to the running of the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29, 2016.
Soldiers unfurl a large American flag near the entrance to Turn 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway prior to the running of the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29, 2016. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Motor Speedway has withdrawn from the bidding process to host the ESPN X Games in 2017 and 2018.

Discussions with the sports network have been “positive” and “will remain confidential,” said Scott Cooper, the speedway’s vice president of communications, in a statement to the Observer.

“We appreciate ESPN’s continued interest in the speedway as a potential host venue, and we look forward to engaging in the process again in the future,” Cooper said.

The speedway did not mention North Carolina’s contentious new LGBT law, House Bill 2, as a reason it is withdrawing. But when the bill passed in March, ESPN said it embraces “diversity and inclusion and will evaluate all of our options” as it seeks the next site for the extreme-sports event.

“We thank Charlotte Motor Speedway for its interest in hosting the X Games, and look forward to continuing discussions when searching for the next two-year host city in 2019 and 2020,” the network said in a statement.

Charlotte Motor Speedway said back in May that it was having “preliminary discussions” with ESPN about hosting the summer games, which feature sports like skateboarding and motocross.

The speedway’s bid to host the summer X Games fell short in 2013 after ESPN said Austin, Texas, would host for the next four years. The games are leaving Austin a year earlier than expected because ESPN is returning the games to a window in late July or early August, when there is less programming competition from other sports, an ESPN spokesman told the Observer in May.

Last year, the X Games had an economic impact of $102.3 million in Austin, according to an analysis cited by ESPN.

Cities that have confirmed publicly they’re bidding to host an X Games summer event in 2017-18 include Minneapolis, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, Providence and Nassau/Long Island, N.Y., ESPN spokesman Danny Chi said. There are multiple others that have requested to remain anonymous for now.

The NBA has also voiced opposition to HB2, and commissioner Adam Silver has said multiple times that the law must change in order to keep the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte. Silver said earlier this month that the league has begun looking to alternate cities that might have to step in as host for the four-day event next February.

Staff writer Rick Rothacker contributed.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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