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N.C. cities still gunning to host NCAA games despite HB2

Duke fans cheer on their team against the San Diego State Aztecs in the second half of the third round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena in March.
Duke fans cheer on their team against the San Diego State Aztecs in the second half of the third round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena in March. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte, Greensboro and other North Carolina cities submitted questionnaires to the NCAA on Friday seeking to assure the organization they can provide a welcoming environment during future college championship games they hope to host.

The questionnaires were a new requirement added by the NCAA after North Carolina’s passage of House Bill 2, which limits protections for LGBT individuals.

Prospective host cities are hoping they won’t lose tournament games over HB2 after the NBA pulled its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte over the law. Last month, a day after the NBA said it was moving the game, the NCAA said that cities bidding to host any of its 90 championships must make the submissions about discrimination prevention by Friday.

Governments, universities and nonprofits were scrambling to finish the questionnaire Friday and didn’t provide many details about what they were telling the NCAA.

“Since several cities in North Carolina regularly host these events, all cities collectively are responding to the NCAA with the same message,” Judy Rose, UNC Charlotte’s athletic director, said in an email. She did not say what that message is.

Charlotte is bidding to host men’s basketball tournament games at Time Warner Cable Arena for three years – 2020-2022. UNC Charlotte is the host school for the games that would be held here, so it is responsible for submitting the bid.

Greensboro is bidding on the next four years of men’s and women’s basketball games (2019-2022), and four years of swimming and diving championships in various divisions. Greensboro will submit nearly 30 total bids, said Scott Johnson, deputy director of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

Bid city finalists will be announced in October and cities earning championship bids will be announced in December, an NCAA spokeswoman said.

Greensboro is already scheduled to host men’s college basketball tournament games in 2017, followed by Charlotte in 2018. The two cities have a separate, yet-to-be-determined deadline to submit the anti-discrimination criteria to the organization for those games.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

North Carolina repealed HB2 in 2017 but left intact some of its provisions. But with Charlotte’s reputation tainted, the city is still paying to market itself to visitors.

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