On Monday night, the NCAA announced plans to relocate all championship tournament games that were originally scheduled to take place in North Carolina. The decision came in response to House Bill 2, which among other things, weakens anti-discrimination protections for members of the LGBT community.
The Division I men's basketball tournament, with a dozen first and second-round games slated for Greensboro, is among the events set to be moved. In 2012, the men's tournament there attracted approximately 60,000 fans to the Greensboro Coliseum, and generated nearly $15 million.
WFDD's David Ford spoke with Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan about the NCAA's decision, and its impact on the city.
On what Vaughan thinks about the NCAA's decision to pull games from Greensboro:
You know, I'm personally very disappointed in the decision because the city of Greensboro is a very welcoming, inclusive community. We were the highest rated city for the [Human Rights Campaign's] Municipal Equality Index. We passed three non-discrimination ordinances about a year and a half ago. We have really been a leader in this area and, you know, to be punished through no fault of our own is very discouraging.
On the potential financial impact of losing the games:
It's hard to quantify because we get incredible advertising benefit by being televised across the country and, really, globally. You can't put a dollar value on that.
We know what it will cost the Coliseum but it also will cost hotels and motels and restaurants and linen rental plants and caterers. You know, there are so many different things, but the people who are really going to be hurt the most are the ones who work at the Coliseum, and the ones who work at the hotels, because they depend on this money to pay their bills.
On what broader implications could be on the horizon:
This isn't just this year because we, right now, are in the process of bidding for other tournaments... for the next four years out, so we could actually be faced with a five-year drought. And then the ACC has said that they are likely to follow what the NCAA does. So you can imagine the economic impact that that's going to bring, not only to Greensboro, but really throughout the entire state and Guilford County.
We have a first class aquatic center, we've got a great Coliseum, golfing facilities, baseball facilities... and to see them be empty for the next four years would be such a shame. You know, the ACC was founded here in the city of Greensboro, and I know that they're going to give this a lot of thought before they make a decision. We've had a great partnership with the ACC and the NCAA. And we would hate for that to be changed over the next few years.