NC sports group warns NCAA could pull events over bathroom law

NC sports group warns NCAA could pull events over bathroom law
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North Carolina stands to lose out on six years of major college athletic competitions if the state legislature stands firm on a law banning transgender people from accessing public restrooms of their choice, a state sports agency told members of the General Assembly on Monday.
 
In a letter to legislators, Scott Dupree, executive director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and a member of the North Carolina Sports Association, told legislators the NCAA plans to drop all tournament events in North Carolina through at least 2022 if the General Assembly doesn’t overturn the law, known as House Bill 2, or H.B. 2.
 
North Carolina venues have submitted 133 bids to host various NCAA championship events, from the March Madness basketball tournament to more minor events in other sports. Together, the events could be worth up to $250 million in economic activity within the state’s borders, Dupree said.
 
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But those events are at risk, Dupree said.
 
“Our contacts at the NCAA tell us that, due to their stance on H.B. 2, all North Carolina bids will be pulled from the review process and removed from consideration,” Dupree wrote.
 
The process of narrowing bids for NCAA championship events is taking place this month, Dupree said. A legislative solution to the H.B. 2 stalemate, which began when Charlotte City Council members passed their own bill guaranteeing transgender people access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, has eluded Republicans and Democrats in Raleigh.
 
“In a matter of days, our state’s sports tourism industry will suffer crushing, long-term losses and will essentially close its doors to NCAA business. Our window to act is closing rapidly,” Dupree wrote. “Our last chance to save these events is now. It will be a shame if H.B. 2 is resolved one day too late.”
 
Sports organizations have already punished North Carolina for the controversial law. The NCAA relocated several championship events out of state during the 2016–2017 season, and the NBA relocated its 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans. Several businesses halted plans to build new facilities or move new jobs to North Carolina after the ensuing uproar.
 
“H.B. 2 has cost North Carolina every single day with businesses and events leaving a state that has written discrimination into law,” said Chris Sgro, who runs the pro-LGBT group Equality NC. “The economic damage already experienced because of HB2 is only the beginning, and the North Carolina legislature must stop the bleeding by immediately repealing H.B. 2.”
 
A political solution to the H.B. 2 crisis seemed at hand in December, when the state legislature convened a special session in hopes of repealing the law after reaching a deal with the Charlotte City Council. But the agreement fell apart after LGBT rights groups balked at a provision in the legislative language that would have permitted the state to block local anti-discrimination provisions on a temporary, but ongoing, basis.
 
Republicans blamed Democrats, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Charlotte City Council for reneging on their end of the bargain.
 
“Roy Cooper and Senate Democrats killed the repeal of H.B. 2, abandoning Roy Cooper’s commitment to avoid divisive social issues by shooting down a temporary cooling off period on ordinances like the one that got us into this mess last March,” state Senate President Phil Berger (R) said in a statement.
 
A new measure to repeal the law was introduced last week, though it is unlikely that the state Senate Rules Committee will allow it to advance.