CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NCAA will return events to North Carolina after selecting two sites in the state for championship games in the coming five years.
Greensboro was chosen to host the first and second rounds of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship in 2020 at the Greensboro Coliseum. Raleigh will host the same event in 2021 at the PNC Arena.
Charlotte was previously selected as host city for the first and second rounds of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship in 2018 at the Spectrum Arena on March 16 and 18. However, the NCAA's boycott of NC in response to HB2 had put this event in jeopardy. Ahead of the NCAA announcement, UNC began advertising that the NCAA March Madness is coming to Charlotte, North Carolina.
The announcement comes after a brief debacle between the NCAA and North Carolina lawmakers after the sanctioning body told the legislators they would need to repeal House Bill 2, also known as HB2 or “the bathroom law,” or the state would again lose hosting rights in future tournaments.
After legislators scurried to repeal and replace House Bill 2, the NCAA said the “reluctantly voted” to allow consideration of championship bids in the Tar Heel state.
"NCAA tournament games have a positive impact on our state’s economy, putting more money in the pockets of every day working North Carolina men and women who help host the games," said Gov. Roy Cooper in a statement. He added, "while the compromise to repeal House Bill 2 was an important first step to fight discrimination and improve our state’s reputation and economy, we cannot stop until we have statewide LGBT protections.”
"I didn't really agree with the boycott in the first place to be honest," said Taylor Ivey, a basketball fan who wore his UNC championship t-shirt as he walked his dog in Uptown.
"I hate to see so many politics interjected into sports, that's my one place to escape from politics," he declared.
If the boycott continued, and North Carolina did not get a bid Tuesday, experts said it could've caused the state at least $250 million over the next five years.
The competition to be a championship game host is competitive. Charlotte is one of hundreds of cities nationwide that has submitted bids to be considered to host championship games by the NCAA. However, other than 2018's tournament that was decided previously, Charlotte did not get any events during this selection cycle.
Tom Murray, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Association said, "while we’re disappointed we won’t have the opportunity to host any championship games in this upcoming site selection cycle for NCAA, we’re excited to welcome the first and second rounds of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in 2018." He said the CRVA will bid on future championships for 2023 and beyond.
"It's definitely a start and when it comes down to it, eventually they will probably bring back more games," said Kyle McKenzie of Charlotte.