By Flint Wheeler
The city of Charlotte is losing the 2017 NBA All-Star Game over controversy stemming from North Carolina’s House Bill 2.
“The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019,” a statement from the league read.
“Since March, when North Carolina enacted HB2 and the issue of legal protections for the LGBT community in Charlotte became prominent, the NBA and the Charlotte Hornets have been working diligently to foster constructive dialogue and try to effect positive change,” the statement continued. “We have been guided in these discussions by the long-standing core values of our league. These include not only diversity, inclusion, fairness and respect for others but also the willingness to listen and consider opposing points of view.”
“Our week-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community – current and former players, league and team officials, business partners, and fans. While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2.”
“We are particularly mindful of the impact of this decision on our fans in North Carolina, who are among the most passionate in our league. It is also important to stress that the City of Charlotte and the Hornets organization have sought to provide an inclusive environment and that the Hornets will continue to ensure that all patrons – including members of the LGBT community – feel welcome while attending games and events in their arena,” the statement read.
HB2 requires individuals to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate in government buildings, schools and universities, and took away the ability of employees to sue their employers in state court for discrimination or wrongful termination, among other things.
The bill was passed in a one-day special session in late March and was signed by Governor Pat McCrory later that night.
It came as a response to a non-discrimination ordinance passed in February by the Charlotte City Council. The ordinance broadly defined how businesses should treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers.
The debate, as in other cities, focused on bathrooms.
After its passage, several high ranking North Carolina Republicans, including Governor McCrory, voiced concerns about people having the ability to choose public restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.
The days after House Bill 2 was signed, the National Basketball Association (NBA) speculated that the bill might affect the Queen City hosting the game.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said she was disappointed that the game was moved.
“I am deeply disappointed that the discriminatory actions reflected in HB2 have caused the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte. All-Star weekend would have provided an excellent opportunity to further showcase our great and welcoming city,” the mayor said. “Charlotte has shown its commitment to equal rights and inclusion and will continue to promote those values.”
Mayor Roberts did, however, thank the NBA for being “champions of equality.”
“It was a $100 million for the city. A lot of that was going to come in the form of tax revenue, sales taxes, income taxes we’d be able to use for schools, for healthcare, for roads, and now all that money goes somewhere else,” said Democratic Governor Jackson.
NC Governor Pat McCrory released a statement on the move just after 6 p.m.
“The sports and entertainment elite, Attorney General Roy Cooper and the liberal media have for months misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present,” Governor McCrory wrote. “Twenty-one other states have joined North Carolina to challenge the federal overreach by the Obama administration mandating their bathroom policies in all businesses and schools instead of allowing accommodations for unique circumstances. Left-wing special interest groups have no moral authority to try and intimidate the large majority of American parents who agree in common-sense bathroom and shower privacy for our children. American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process.”
NBA officials said they will make an announcement on the new location of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game “in the coming weeks.”
Reports indicate that New Orleans will be the likely replacement. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city would be “excited” if they were called on to host the game.