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NBA responds to Atlanta’s call to move All-Star Game from Charlotte

Governor Pat McCrory thanks NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and pokes fun at Michael Jordan during a press conference announcing Charlotte would host the 2017 NBA All-Star game. Atlanta is lobbying the NBA to move the game there after the passage of House Bill 2 last week.
Governor Pat McCrory thanks NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and pokes fun at Michael Jordan during a press conference announcing Charlotte would host the 2017 NBA All-Star game. Atlanta is lobbying the NBA to move the game there after the passage of House Bill 2 last week. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

The Atlanta City Council is asking the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to Atlanta after the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, repealing portions of Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

During a committee hearing Tuesday, the resolution was introduced in Atlanta. It invites the NBA to consider relocating the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend “due to the passage of House Bill 2, a measure that discriminates against members of the LGBT community.”

The NBA says they are still hopeful Charlotte and North Carolina come to an agreement.

“We appreciate the invitation but are hopeful that the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina can work through their differences far in advance of the 2017 All-Star Game,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said about the proposal.

The bill was signed into North Carolina law last week after a special session was held.

The day after the bill was signed, the National Basketball Association speculated that the bill might affect the Queen City’s hosting the 2017 All-Star Game. It’s scheduled for Feb. 17.

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the organization said in a release via Twitter after House Bill 2 was passed.

“We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte,” the statement continued.

Charlotte won the bid to host the All-Star Game in June 2015. One month later, the city formally committed to spending $600,000 in general tax dollars to host the event. The total incentive package for the All-Star Game is about $5.9 million, according to WBTV’s news partner The Charlotte Observer.

“The City of Atlanta draws strength from our diverse community,” said Atlanta Council President Ceasar Mitchell. “This unity creates our city’s embracing spirit, a quality that has made Atlanta the destination of choice for numerous international business conventions, professional and college sporting events, as well as one of the largest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the nation. We would certainly welcome the opportunity to show that very spirit as the host of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.”

“Atlanta is a vibrant, energetic city that would be an outstanding host to the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend,” chairman Andre Dickens said. “As the home to the civil and human rights movement, our diverse set of people and businesses welcome this global event with open arms.”

Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance passed in February by a 7-4 vote from the Charlotte City Council. It broadly defined how businesses should treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. The debate, as in other cities recently, focused on bathrooms.

After its passage, several high ranking North Carolina Republicans, including McCrory, voiced concerns about people having the ability to choose public restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

McCrory signed the state bill repealing parts of the ordinance into law Wednesday night. Lawmakers passed the bill in a special session and the governor signed it within one day.

WBTV is the Observer’s news partner

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