In op-ed, Cooper laments loss of NBA All-Star Game over HB2

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North Carolina should have been hosting the NBA All-Star Game this weekend. Instead, the event is in New Orleans.

Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper penned an op-ed on Medium titled "This Could Have Been a Different Weekend." The post spoke to the Governor's reflection on how the state could have benefited from the NBA keeping the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, as opposed to moving it to New Orleans.

With the game taking place this weekend and basketball festivities beginning to take place Friday evening, Cooper wrote:

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In the year since it was signed into law, HB 2 has cost our state thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars. And this weekend's NBA All Star Game in New Orleans-instead of Charlotte-serves as a stark reminder of the damage this law continues to do to North Carolina's reputation and economy.

Charlotte's selection to host the All Star game was a moment of incredible pride for North Carolina. Not only would the NBA showcase our state as a world class destination, but the game would pump an estimated $100 million into our economy in just one weekend. But because of HB 2, that money went elsewhere.

In addition to losing the All-Star Game, North Carolina is on the verge of losing NCAA Championship events through 2022. North Carolina cities, colleges and universities have submitted 133 bids in all kinds of sports in cities large and small. But we've been put on notice that North Carolina will be out of the running if we don't get HB2 repealed. College sports are woven into the fabric of our state. That we could miss out on the opportunity to host these events that are tremendous economic engines is just beyond belief.

We can show we are a state that's open for business. It's time to put the partisan barbs aside, roll up our sleeves, and work to repeal House Bill 2. I have presented a common sense compromise proposal to repeal this disastrous law. I'm doing what's right, and Republican legislative leaders must too.

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The NBA All-Star Weekend was supposed to take place this weekend in Charlotte

Earlier this week, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger accused Cooper of having an agenda toward HB2.

"(Gov. Cooper) has done, what I would say, everything possible to keep HB2 as an issue front and center," Berger told ABC11, "because that's in his political interest."

Cooper's office did not make themselves available Friday for further comment.


On Twitter, Raleigh-based Christian conservative lobbying group, NC Values Coalition suggested Cooper and other HB2 critics were blowing economic losses out of proportion. The group accused the governor of crying, "the sky is falling", in its Friday tweet.

According to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the city estimates $100 million will be lost by not having the game in North Carolina.

In fact, the HB2-related economic losses across the state do pale in comparison to North Carolina's total economic output.

N.C. State economist Mike Walden pointed to the newest estimates that put the loss of business here at $500 million. But the state's overall annual economic activity is $500 billion.

"So $500 million out of $500 billion is 0.1 percent, so it's not really enough to move the needle," Walden said.

It's nowhere near what it would take to touch off a recession. But what about the state's reputation?

"This is a setback in terms of image," Walden said. "I'm not taking any stand on HB2, but in terms of public perception, we're not getting good press from this, so I think that's the major issue."

In Wake County, an official with Raleigh Beer Garden said he isn't worried about business this weekend because patrons frequent the restaurant regularly.

"Regardless of the fact, we are going to get some people to come through. If they are in town, they will come by and see the landmark," said John Galanos, referring to the venue's noticeable design along Glenwood South. "We're still going to be busy. We're still going to serve beer."

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce declined an interview with ABC11 on Friday regarding the NBA All-Star Game. However, a representative stated the organization still supports a repeal of HB2 as "HB2 has already harmed business growth in Wake County and the state of North Carolina's reputation."

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