NBA responds to Atlanta's call to move All-Star Game from Charlotte

Published: Mar. 29, 2016 at 8:17 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2016 at 12:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Atlanta City Council is asking the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to Atlanta after the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2, repealing portions of Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance.

During a committee hearing on Tuesday, the resolution was introduced in Atlanta. It invites the NBA to consider relocating the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend "due to the passage of House Bill 2, a measure that discriminates against members of the LGBT community."

The NBA says they are still hopeful Charlotte and NC come to an agreement.

"We appreciate the invitation but are hopeful that the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina can work through their differences far in advance of the 2017 All-Star Game," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said about the proposal.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts took to twitter Wednesday morning, tweeting that Charlotte is the perfect location for the All-Star game because of "our strong anti-discrimination stance."

Charlotte City Council member James Mitchell, who is also Chair of the City Council's Economic Development Committee, said "We're moving forward. We're going to host this tournament in Charlotte."

Mitchell said while the decision is up to the NBA, "I think at the end of the day the NBA is going to judge the city of Charlotte on how well we prepare to host this tournament, how well the venues are, how well the organize committee has done a good job of preparing for a successful event."

Mitchell said "there are contracts in place with the Hornets as well as with the city where the three are a true partnership."

"We're working now on what community events we're going to do," Council Member Mitchell said. "We're working on the venues for both the slam dunk competition and the 3-point shootout. I mean this $100 million economic development will take place February 17 to 19 in the city of Charlotte."

Mitchell said the city cannot afford to let House Bill 2 dictate economic development. He said city staff and partners are continuing to "recruit tourism" because "we brand ourselves as Charlotte has a lot."

"I'm saying the state made that policy but we've got to continue to move the city forward" he said.

The bill was signed into North Carolina law last week after a special session was held.

The day after the bill was signed, the National Basketball Association (NBA) speculated that the bill might affect the Queen City hosting the 2017 All-Star Game. It's scheduled to be held on Sunday, February 17.

"The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events," the organization said in a release via Twitter after House Bill 2 was passed.

"We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte," the statement continued.

The Queen City won the bid to host the All-Star Game in June 2015. One month later, the city formally committed to spending $600,000 in general tax dollars to host the event. The total incentive package for the All-Star Game is about $5.9 million, according to WBTV's news partner The Charlotte Observer.

"The City of Atlanta draws strength from our diverse community," said Atlanta Council President Ceasar Mitchell. "This unity creates our city's embracing spirit, a quality that has made Atlanta the destination of choice for numerous international business conventions, professional and college sporting events, as well as one of the largest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the nation. We would certainly welcome the opportunity to show that very spirit as the host of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend."

"Atlanta is a vibrant, energetic city that would be an outstanding host to the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend," chairman Andre Dickens said. "As the home to the civil and human rights movement, our diverse set of people and businesses welcome this global event with open arms."

Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance passed in February by a 7-4 vote from the Charlotte City Council. It broadly defined how businesses should treat gay, lesbian and transgender customers. The debate, as in other cities recently, focused on bathrooms.

After its passage, several high ranking North Carolina Republicans, including Governor McCrory, voiced concerns about people having the ability to choose public restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

NC Governor Pat McCrory signed the new bill repealing parts of the ordinance into law Wednesday night. Lawmakers passed the bill in a special session and the Governor signed it all within one day.

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