Why is the 2017 ACC Tournament not in North Carolina?

The ACC recently announced that it would be moving all of its conference championships out of the state of North Carolina for the 2016-17 season.

Back in September, the Athletic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that it would be moving all of it’s neutral-site championships out of the state of North Carolina for the 2016-17 season, mainly due to House Bill 2 (HB2), a law passed on March 23 of this year that reversed an ordinance passed in Charlotte that had extended some rights to people who are gay or transgender.

The ordinance in Charlotte caused the most controversy in North Carolina as it protected transgender people who use public restrooms based on their gender identity and HB2, officially known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, nullified the Charlotte ordinance along with similar ordinances around the state of North Carolina, including those in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill that would have given more protections to the LGBT community. Long-time laws in the state of North Carolina have regulated workplace discrimination and use of public facilities. What HB2 has done is make it illegal for cities in North Carolina to expand their own laws beyond what is defined by the state, meaning that while race, religion, color, national origin, age, handicap or biological sex as defined on one’s birth certificate are all protected, sexual orientation was never protected and unless repealed will continue to remain unprotected under state law.

Backlash in communities around North Carolina was immediate and the sports world reacted as well. The NBA pulled the All-Star Game, which was set to take place at the home of the Charlotte Hornets in February of next year, and the NCAA followed suit, pulling seven different championships from North Carolina, including first and second round men’s basketball tournament games that were due to be played in Greensboro, which also happens to be the home of the ACC.

Not far behind, the ACC has pulled numerous championships from the state, including football, women’s soccer, baseball and women’s basketball. However, for those thinking that the ACC men’s basketball will not take place in Greensboro due to HB2, that’s actually not the case. While the ACC tourney was usually held at the Greensboro Coliseum over the years, the tournament was played at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. in 2016 and will be held at the Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets, in New York for the next two seasons, a decision that came down long before HB2 began to affect other areas of the ACC.

CBS Sports has reported that due to expansion in the league, commissioner John Swofford wanted the tournament to be held in New York City anyway, meaning that the decision passed down by the ACC in September actually didn’t have any affect on men’s basketball…at least not for now.

The ACC tourney is set to return to North Carolina in 2019 in Charlotte and is scheduled to take place in Greensboro in 2020. The economic fallout from these events being pulled will be substantial and those running in the upcoming state election that voted for HB2 are facing an uphill battle in their respective elections as The Charlotte Observer is reporting that a new poll suggests that more than half the voters in North Carolina think HB2 was a mistake.

If HB2 is repealed, North Carolina is likely to have these events return as early as 2018. As far as the ACC Tournament is concerned, it currently remains unaffected and has a little bit of time to work things out before it’s set to return to the state.