CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte received another huge economic blow Wednesday when the Atlantic Coast conference said as long as HB-2 is the law, they would remove all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year from the state.
Included in those sporting events is the ACC Championship Game, which has been held in Charlotte annually since the 2010 season.
HB2 was passed by the legislature last March during a one day session and was signed late that same night by Governor Pat McCrory.
The law limits protections for the LGBT community and the ACC said in a statement that was not acceptable.
Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement, "...the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount."
Since HB2 became law, PayPal canceled plans for 400 new jobs in Charlotte, entertainers have canceled performances in protest, the NBA took away the All Star Game from the city and earlier this week the NCAA moved all championship tournaments out of the entire state of North Carolina.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority estimates that last year's ACC championship game in Charlotte brought in $32.4 million and the year before the figure was $30.9-million.In a statement the CRVA said the loss of the game, "is a blow to Charlotte's visitor economy and is irreplaceable at this late date."
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce said in a statement it was still working to get some kind of solution that will modify the existing law.
The statement reads, "The Charlotte Chamber believes any changes should include giving municipalities the ability to extend non-discriminatory protections to the LGBT community."
Governor Pat McCrory released a statement regarding the ACC's decision saying, "This issue of redefining gender and basic norms of privacy will be resolved in the near future in the United States court system for not only North Carolina, but the entire nation. I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation's judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach."
Neutral site championships held by the ACC include the following sports:
- Women’s Soccer
- Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving
- Women’s Basketball
- Men’s and Women’s Tennis
- Women’s Golf
- Men’s Golf
Opponents of the bill stood behind the decision to remove championship events from the state.
"In standing up for LGBTQ equality, the ACC, the NCAA, and the NBA are all standing on the right side of history. Governor McCrory and state lawmakers should work swiftly to repeal HB2 and bring back championship games to North Carolina," said Human Rights Council President Chad Griffin. "The fact that Governor McCrory and other lawmakers continue to play politics with discrimination is inexcusable, enormously costly, and simply wrong. The people of North Carolina deserve better and have a chance to make their voices heard November 8."
"Yesterday it was the NCAA. Last month it was the NBA. Today, the ACC - home conference to many of our beloved teams - will take their marquis events out of North Carolina,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “It has never been more clear than it is right now - HB2 is hurting our state every minute that it remains law. It's hurting our people, our reputation, and our economy. I'm calling on Pat McCrory today - accept responsibility for the legislation you signed. It's crystal clear that HB2 is bad for us. Stop playing the blame game and clean up this mess you've made of our state, because we cannot afford to wait any longer."
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts tweeted her response to the ACC's decision, asking what it would take for North Carolina state leadership to repeal House Bill 2.
How many companies and sports organizations have to leave NC before the Governor & NCGA leadership wake up to the 21st Century & repeal HB2?— Mayor of Charlotte (@CLTMayor) September 14, 2016
North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds also released a statement Wednesday, blaming Governor McCrory for another loss for the state.
“This is another loss for North Carolina that could have been easily avoided – another disappointing day for the state. How much more money and how many more jobs does North Carolina have to lose before Governor McCrory stops pointing fingers and fixes his mistake? It is way past time to repeal this disastrous law.”
According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the ACC Championship Game has had an economic impact of over $63 million the last two seasons, with over $32 million in direct spending.
“The cancellation of the 2016 ACC Football Championship is a blow to Charlotte’s visitor economy and is irreplaceable at this late date," said CRVA CEO Tom Murray. "The event has consistently generated significant economic impact for the city that greatly contributes to our quality of life in Charlotte and in North Carolina and helps sustain thousands of jobs. We’ve proven to be a welcoming host city for these events and hope we’ll have the opportunity to bring the championship back to Charlotte in future years.”