Businesses and college basketball fans in Charlotte are reacting after the NCAA, citing controversial House Bill 2, has now decided to pull its championship games out of North Carolina for the 2016-2017 season.
Tony Nelson is a Duke University basketball fan who lives in Charlotte. “It’s huge. It’s huge. It’s almost like a religion here,” Nelson said, as he described college basketball in North Carolina.
Charlotte last hosted rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2015. The tournament is expected to return to the Queen City in two years, but that might not happen because the NCAA has already pulled the plug on North Carolina hosting championship games this season because of controversial House Bill 2.
“To hear that the NCAA tournament has pulled is devastating. I mean I just found it out. It’s heartbreaking.”
The impact is not only felt among college basketball fans, but at local businesses.
“It’s very nerve-racking to know we might not get them (various sporting events). That’s how we keep everyone employed. That’s how we keep everything going,” said Matt Allen, General Manager of the Hyatt House hotel in Uptown Charlotte.
In a statement, the NCAA criticized House Bill 2 saying the state law not only prevents transgender people from using the bathroom of their gender identity, but the NCAA says the law also does not allow cities to put in place protections for the LGBT community.
“We thrive on special events but with us being so close to the arena next door. When we know about it, we can plan for it, but we definitely need that business coming into the city.” Allen said.
Allen says the revenue coming into his hotel is usually about double for an event like the NCAA tournament, compared with a weekend when there are no major events in the Queen City.
Bryan Meredith, Managing Partner of Queen City Q released the following statement to Fox 46 Charlotte:
"The Charlotte City Council started a fight knowing the results would be financially burdensome on it's small business operators. The NCGA reacted with an over reach as City Council expected and now we are losing 10's of thousands of dollars of revenue opportunities not just for our business, but for all the servers, bartenders and staff who would have been supporting the many functions related to the NCAA events. "
It's time both sides of the isle learned the meaning of the word compromise.”
As for the future of other major sporting events in Charlotte, Fox 46 Charlotte has learned that the Belk Bowl is still a go. That’s according to the executive director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation.
And what’s the future of the ACC Championship football game, which has been hosted in Charlotte?
Fox 46 Charlotte received the following statement from ACC Commissioner John Swofford:
“The decision by the NCAA Board of Governors to relocate all current, and not award any future, NCAA Championship sites in the state of North Carolina continues to build upon the negative impact this bill has already had on the state. HB2 was previously scheduled to be thoroughly discussed at this week's ACC Council of Presidents meeting, so it would be premature to make any decisions or announcements regarding ACC Championships until our membership is able to discuss. The league's longstanding commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion will continue to be a central theme to our discussions.
On a personal note, it's time for this bill to be repealed as it's counter to basic human rights.”
Fox 46 Charlotte also reached out to the CIAA tournament.
The following statement is from CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams:
“The NCAA’s announcement to relocate its seven championships demonstrates the ongoing, negative impact that HB2 has on the state of North Carolina. This continues to be of concern to the CIAA with 8 of our 12 member-institutions residing in the state and our headquarters residing in Charlotte.
The decision whether or not to relocate our championships is at the discretion of the CIAA Board of Directors. Our priority is always to provide our student-athletes the opportunity to compete, serve, and create impact within their communities and the CIAA footprint. The CIAA Board will continue to discuss and determine how to move forward for the collective interest of our student-athletes and stakeholders and for future of our conference. The CIAA is committed in providing the best experience for our student-athletes and creating a respectful and inclusive culture for our diverse membership and stakeholders.”