While it appears North Carolina’s House Bill 2 is going nowhere (at least for now), Atlantic Coast Conference officials are now at the point where they need to take conference tournaments just about anywhere. “We’d be remiss if we didn’t,” ACC commissioner John Swofford told the Greensboro News & Record earlier this month.
HB 2 is the controversial state law that requires transgender individuals to use public restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. The law also prevents local governments from setting and implementing anti-discrimination and employment policies against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
As a result of the legislation, the NCAA and other sports organizations committed to inclusivity is boycotting the state for championships and tournaments — a move that’s even more painful for the ACC, which is headquartered in Greensboro, N.C. The conference scheduled its annual men’s basketball tournament at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center this season. Similarly, the ACC women’s basketball tournament, held in Greensboro the past 17 years, was relocated to Conway, S.C. And the first two rounds of this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament, originally scheduled for Greensboro, have been moved to Greenville, S.C.
All told, North Carolina lost 17 NCAA and ACC events for the current academic year because of the law. And the 2017 NBA All-Star Game was moved from Charlotte to New Orleans.
According to the News & Record, Swofford says “the stalled efforts to repeal [HB 2] have the [ACC] waiting and hoping for a change but that time constraints have caused the conference to begin making plans for moving more championship events out of the state.”
As of now, the ACC men’s basketball tournaments are still on the schedule for Charlotte in 2019 and Greensboro in 2020, but Swofford says he can’t wait much longer. “That’s not that far off when you’re booking arenas,” he said. “We can’t wait too long.”
Neither can the NCAA. Even though Kim Strable, president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, isn’t happy about it, she understands the association’s stance. “The NCAA really doesn’t want to do this,” Strable, told reporters. “They love North Carolina. They know we do a good job. They’ve been gracious about this whole thing, but they’ve put themselves out there and took a stand, and there’s no way to really walk back from that.”
At the same time, some lawmakers are pushing for change. According to an article in The State, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper urged lawmakers to repeal the bill very soon, saying the law is "the dark cloud hanging over our state of promise" by harming North Carolina's economy and reputation."
The amount of business North Carolina has already lost because of the bill is staggering. According to an article in Forbes, HB2 cost the state $630.4 million in lost business since last March. The lion's share of the loss is in research business, which is estimated at $255 million. Sports is the second-biggest industry loss ($197.4 million). Other industries that suffer in North Carolina include $38 million in tourism, $21 million in banking, $61 million in entertainment and $58 million in technology.