The Staggering Cost of HB2 Keeps Growing
Since HB2 was passed, many artists, organizations and businesses have chosen to boycott our state. Recently, North Carolinians have been concerned with the cost of losing all NCAA and ACC tournaments, which will cost North Carolina about $91.4 million. Combining the loss of the NCAA and ACC tournaments, the relocation of conferences, and the cancellation of concerts and business expansions, North Carolina has lost over $300 million dollars in just six months. If this bill is not repealed, North Carolina will continue to lose millions of dollars and future events.
But by far the sector of North Carolina’s economy most strapped by HB2 backlash is tourism. Leaving aside sports for a second, by the figuring of Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, the state’s three largest cities lost $109.4 million to canceled conferences and other events since HB2. That’s things like the Bruce Springsteen concert, which probably contributed about $700,000 to that loss alone.
But now we get to where it really hurts North Carolina most: sports. And here we’re talking the total economic impact as opposed to direct spending. That includes the ticket sales and hotel rooms, but also the cost to the florist down the street who would have done arrangements for a post-game reception. When the NBA pulled their All-Star Game, North Carolina missed out on $106 million. When the NCAA and ACC followed suit with their championship games, it means a loss of at least another $91.4, $51 million from the NCAA events and $40.4 million from the ACC’s.
While it might sound frivolous in comparison to losing, say, 400 highly skilled PayPal jobs with an estimated total salary of $20 million, college basketball abandoning North Carolina is hitting the state in its heart. “It obviously a loss for our grand basketball tradition,” says Chris Sgro, executive director of LGBTQ rights organization Equality North Carolina and a member of the state’s General Assembly. “In many of our cities, we’ll have a sporting event drought for years to come if we don’t repeal HB2.” As one North Carolinian put it: “college sports is religion in North Carolina.” And for now it’s gone.
Adding all that up, the total cost to North Carolinians so far from HB2 protests is slightly more than $395 million. That’s more than the GDP of Micronesia. And the bulk of it is from sporting organizations, who even five years ago would likely not have waded into political territory like this. But experts aren’t that surprised that the NBA, NCAA, and ACC have taken this step now. “They’re not out on a limb here,” Durso says. “They’re in line with their base.” The near unanimous outcry against HB2 and in support of the NCAA and ACC confirms that. Legislating discrimination has become an expensive bad habit.