Late last month, the North Carolina legislature passed a law that barred local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people, a move that was met with almost immediate backlash from the sporting world. The NBA issued a statement hinting that it might move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte unless the law was struck down. Other organizations, leagues and teams — including the NCAA, ACC, USGA and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes — all pledged to monitor the situation.
The NFL, meanwhile, seems to be treading lightly. On Tuesday, a league spokesman said that while the league considers diversity and non-discrimination to be important matters, it will not move its owners’ meetings, set for May 23-25, out of Charlotte.
“We embrace diversity and inclusiveness in all of our policies,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN.com’s David Newton. “The Panthers have made clear their position of non-discrimination and respect for all their fans. The city of Charlotte also has made clear its position.
“The meeting will take place in the city of Charlotte.”
The law was signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. According to the campaign-finance website FollowTheMoney, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and three members of the team’s ownership group have donated sizable amounts to McCrory.
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte is currently undergoing a publicly funded $87.5 million renovation, partly with hopes of one day hosting a Super Bowl. With the next two Super Bowl locations already spoken for and the sites for the 2019-2021 games to be voted upon at the May owners’ meetings, the earliest Charlotte could host the NFL championship would be in 2022.
Last month, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a “religious liberty” bill that would have strengthened protections for opponents of same-sex marriage after the NFL and the NCAA warned that its passage could negatively affect Atlanta’s chances of hosting future Super Bowls and college championship games.