Cary Mayor: We're An NCAA Championship City With No NCAA Championships
The NCAA's decision to pull championship events out of North Carolina leaves a handful of cities without coveted college sports games, and the economic benefits that come with them.
Greensboro and Cary, in particular, expect to lose $14.6 million and $2 million in revenue, respectively.
Greensboro was set to host first- and second-round games of the men's basketball tournament. Cary had secured the final rounds of the women's soccer tournament as well as men's and women's tennis, among other events.
Cary mayor Harold Weinbrecht spoke to WUNC on Tuesday about the impacts on his town.
"It's a major loss, because we've put a lot of time and effort into becoming an amateur sports Mecca," Weinbrecht said. "Now, we're an NCAA championship city and we don't host NCAA championships," he said.
Cary stands to lose the revenue that comes along with 5,300 hotel room bookings, according to a town estimate.
In April, the town issued a statement on HB2 that said, "Cary is a welcoming community that is dedicated to the principles of non-discrimination and equal protection for all." But the town council fell short of passing a resolution for or against the law.
"We are an apolitical council," Weinbrecht said. "We have an unwritten policy – an agreement between ourselves – that we don't say anything in public that we don't all agree on, and we do have a council member that supports HB2," he explained.
On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference followed suit with the NCAA and pulled neutral-site championship events from North Carolina. That means Cary lost the women's soccer championship as well as the men's and women's tennis championships.
"At this point, there's been so much damage done that I'm ready to step up and say more. I think HB2 is causing harm," Weinbrecht said.
The mayor placed some blame on the Charlotte City Council for passing what he called "a political ordinance" when it agreed to change its non-discrimination policy, allowing transgender people to use restrooms that corresponded to their gender identities, but Weinbrecht said the legislature overreacted by passing HB2.
Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement Tuesday condemning the NCAA.
"The issue of redefining gender and basic norms of privacy will be resolved in the near future in the United States court system for not only North Carolina, but the entire nation. I strongly encourage all public and private institutions to both respect and allow our nation’s judicial system to proceed without economic threats or political retaliation toward the 22 states that are currently challenging government overreach. Sadly, the NCAA, a multi-billion dollar, tax-exempt monopoly, failed to show this respect at the expense of our student athletes and hard-working men and women," according to the statement.
Weinbrecht called McCrory's response purely political.
"I really don't think he understands what a transgender individual is," he said, referring to the so-called "bathroom" provision of HB2, which requires transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates.
"Laws like this are actually discriminating against them and making someone that is taking an identity of a different sex go in the opposite restroom, which is humiliating and discriminatory," Weinbrecht added.