North Carolina may be in danger of losing more than 100 major sporting events over the next five years if it doesn’t repeal its controversial “bathroom law.”
The NCAA is threatening to remove from consideration all of the state’s bids to host championship events through 2022, according to the North Carolina Sports Association. In a letter to state lawmakers on Monday, the association warned that keeping the law on the books could result in as much as half a billion dollars in economic losses.
“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,” wrote Scott Dupree on behalf of the sports association. “Our window to act is closing rapidly.”
The NCAA will begin the process of evaluating and removing the state’s 133 bids in seven to 10 days, Dupree said.
“Our last chance to save these events is now. It will be a shame if [the law] is resolved one day too late,” he wrote in the letter.
Business leaders and advocates of LGBT rights have excoriated the bathroom law, known as House Bill 2, since it was signed into law by former Gov. Pat McCrory nearly a year ago. The Republican-backed legislation blocks North Carolina towns from passing legal protections for LGBT people, effectively forcing transgender people to use the public restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their biological sex instead of their gender identity.
The law sparked a firestorm of outrage in the Tar Heel State, leading the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference to relocate more than a dozen championship events from the state slated for this academic year. Events that were moved included March Madness basketball games and the lucrative ACC football title game.
The NCAA said at the time that its decision was based on “the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.” The ACC said the law conflicted with its values of “equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination.”
The NBA also moved its upcoming All-Star Game to New Orleans after originally awarding it to Charlotte.
The potential penalties suggested in Monday’s letter raise the ante significantly and will place additional pressure on North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature to repeal the law.
Efforts to repeal HB2 fell short in December during an especially tense lawmaking session, when Republicans only agreed to strike the law from the books if they could instate an indefinite moratorium during which some of the law’s provisions would effectively still be in place. Democrats voted that legislation down, as did some Republicans who opposed repealing HB2 altogether.
A new repeal effort hasn’t gained momentum in the General Assembly, according to The Charlotte Observer. In Monday’s letter, the North Carolina Sports Association was careful not to appear partisan but nonetheless painted a grim future for the state if it doesn’t take action.
“This letter is not intended to be political in any way, but rather objective and fact-based, so that all interested parties will have a clear understanding of what’s at stake and the urgent nature of these potential losses,” Dupree wrote.
Previous estimates have pegged HB2’s financial fallout in the hundreds of millions of dollars. On top of the sporting event relocations, several performers canceled concerts in North Carolina following the law’s passage, and businesses including PayPal and Deutsche Bank froze expansion plans that cost the state hundreds of jobs.
The law was widely seen to have contributed to McCrory’s loss in November’s election. His successor, Democrat Roy Cooper, has vowed to fight the law.
The NCAA did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the letter.
Read the letter below:
North Carolina Sports Association letter to NCGA: NCAA will remove all NC bids from consideration for 2018-22 without #HB2 repeal. pic.twitter.com/m78L8UMo8z
— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) February 6, 2017
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