Atlanta tries to snatch NBA All-Star Game from Charlotte

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A trio of Atlanta City Council members threw a little shade Charlotte’s way, asking the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from the North Carolina city to Atlanta over the state’s new anti-gay bill signed into law last week.

The resolution from the Council members – Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Alex Wan (photo), who is gay, and Andre Dickens – came Tuesday, just a day after Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed Georgia’s own anti-gay bill. That’s in stark contract to North Carolina, which faces a federal lawsuit over House Bill 2, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law last week. The measure gutted LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances recently passed in Charlotte and bans any city in the state from passing similar measures.

On Thursday, a day after McCrory signed the bill into law, the NBA hinted that it could impact the All-Star Game, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 in Charlotte. Via the Charlotte Observer:

“The NBA is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all who attend our games and events,” the organization said in a release via Twitter after House Bill 2 was passed.

“We are deeply concerned that this discriminatory law runs counter to our guiding principles of equality and mutual respect and do not yet know what impact it will have on our ability to successfully host the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte,” the statement continued.

Sensing an opportunity to poke at Charlotte, a sometimes rival to Atlanta, the three Atlanta City Council members proposed a resolution on Tuesday in a meeting of the Community Development & Human Resources Committee. All three were quick to point to the city’s inclusive reputation.

“The City of Atlanta draws strength from our diverse community,” said Council President Mitchell. “This unity creates our city’s embracing spirit, a quality that has made Atlanta the destination of choice for numerous international business conventions, professional and college sporting events, as well as one of the largest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the nation. We would certainly welcome the opportunity to show that very spirit as the host of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.”

“Atlanta is a vibrant, energetic city that would be an outstanding host to the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend,” said Chairman Dickens. “As the home to the civil and human rights movement, our diverse set of people and businesses welcome this global event with open arms.”

“Atlanta affirms that inclusion and equality are integral to our city’s success as a tourist location for over 40 million visitors each year,” said Chairman Wan, who was also a co-signer of a resolution that passed unanimously by the Atlanta City Council on March 7 opposing HB 757.

McCrory threw shade right back down I-85. Via WSOC-TV:

“Thankfully no college team from Georgia made the Final Four again this year. Otherwise, the Atlanta City Council would have to boycott the City of Houston where voters overwhelmingly rejected a bathroom ordinance that was nearly identical to the one rejected by State of North Carolina.”

Nevermind that the North Carolina law and the Houston ordinance, rejected by voters in November, are very different laws and political scenarios. (The LGBT-inclusive ordinance was rejected by Houston voters; the North Carolina law bans any sort of progressive ordinances.) McCrory, though, made his point.

The NBA was non-committal about Atlanta’s ask. Via the Charlotte Observer:

The NBA says they are still hopeful Charlotte and North Carolina come to an agreement.

“We appreciate the invitation but are hopeful that the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina can work through their differences far in advance of the 2017 All-Star Game,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said about the proposal.

On March 7, Wan and other Council members pushed a resolution opposing the anti-gay “religious freedom” legislation that was being considered by the General Assembly. The measure passed unanimously.


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