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It’s the final blow that could send North Carolina into a uniquely man-made recession.
On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that it was following the lead of the NBA All-Star Game and the NCAA, moving all North Carolina-based championship games out of the state. The three major sports bodies are pulling the events as part of a sweeping boycott of the state’s controversial anti-LGBT law, HB2.
The NCAA, which oversees all college sports, only just pulled its seven scheduled North Carolina events on Monday—removing two 2016 soccer championships, along with five 2017 events in basketball, golf, tennis, lacrosse, and baseball.
On Wednesday, the ACC followed suit, pulling a major football event from Charlotte despite a nine-year contract that placed the game in the city from 2010–2019. But the hurt will be felt most by Greensboro, the ACC’s headquarters and where the majority of its tournaments have typically taken place since the 1950s.
As NPR reported on Wednesday, the ACC’s decision removes eight neutral-site championship games from the state in sports ranging from football and baseball to soccer and swimming.
In a financial analysis published by Forbes early on Wednesday—before the ACC announcement—it was estimated that the state of North Carolina stands to lose $112.5 million alone through the NBA, NCAA, and ACC flight.
Since Gov. Pat McCrory signed the controversial HB2 into law in March, the state has become a battleground of unforeseen proportions. The bill—drafted as a panicked response to a local LGBT rights ordinance in Charlotte—initially banned all cities and towns from passing local nondiscrimination policies or raising the minimum wage, and mandated that all North Carolina residents and visitors only use restrooms that correspond with their gender at birth.
The law immediately drew national backlash. A slew of civil rights groups sued the state in March, with the ACLU, Lambada Legal, and Equality North Carolina challenging the law’s provisions on behalf of a number of LGBT North Carolina residents.
The federal government filed a lawsuit in May, following McCrory’s own lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice—with both parties alleging violations of civil rights law. Mayors from various cities around the country banned business travel to North Carolina, companies like PayPal scrapped plans to build offices in the state, celebrities cancelled concerts and appearances, and one porn tube site even claimed to have blocked the entire state from watching its adult content in protest.
The massive protests throughout 2016 haven’t seemed to put a dent in McCrory or the state’s conservative-leaning government. But maybe a total lack of sports games will do the trick.
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.