The NBA All-Star Game’s exit from North Carolina, USA, because of a law limiting LGBT protections is some of the worst publicity yet for Republican Governor Pat McCrory’s re-election campaign, even as he dismisses the move as political correctness gone too far.
The 2017 event’s departure from Charlotte deprives the state of an estimated US$100 million (about NZ$142 million) economic impact and comes after the law prompted PayPal and Deutsche Bank to cancel plans to add hundreds of jobs to the state. The law known best for its restrictions on transgender bathroom access looms large in an election season that includes one of the nation’s most closely watched governor’s races.
The NBA’s announcement that it will move next year’s All-Star Game out of Charlotte is having ripple effects not only in the world of professional sports but also in the tourism and hospitality industry, which stood to reap a big chunk of the tens of millions of dollars in direct spending the event was expected to bring to the city.
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority did not calculate a projected economic impact, but it noted that recent NBA All-Star Games in similarly sized Southeastern cities contributed in the neighborhood of $60 million in direct spending.
The decision to leave Charlotte also will cost the NBA, said John Foster, a lawyer who works on hotel and event contracts. “If they want to pull out and cancel, they can do so, but they’ll have to pay the damages,” he said.
Although the NBA’s tab might be lower if Charlotte hoteliers are able to resell some of those rooms, the league will have to pay liquidated damages to the hotels it contracted with, along with other venues and service providers, Foster said, adding that its liability could be higher if it also contracted for banquets, receptions or other functions that would have brought the hotels revenue from food and beverage sales.
“The hotel sector in Charlotte is going to be screaming because of this,” said Richard Burton, the David Falk professor of sport management at Syracuse University.
Other local business owners that depend on tourism were upset by the loss, as well. “The travel and tourism dollars that would have flooded Charlotte for the NBA All-Star event would have been significant,” Kymberly Brantigan, president of destination-management firm the Charlotte Destination Group, said via email. “We felt pretty good about our chances of getting significant business associated with the NBA All-Star game.”
Now, Brantigan said companies like hers are just hoping the league reconsiders the city in the future. ” We are thankful that the NBA is considering Charlotte for the All-Star game in 2019,” she said.