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Could Texas 'Bathroom Bill' Lead to Sports Boycotts?

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

AUSTIN, Texas - Texas knows how to throw a party, and for the Super Bowl in Houston, a new 29-story luxury hotel with a rooftop pool shaped like a meandering "lazy river" is the kind of glitzy welcome mat that keeps big events coming back. But that status may soon be put to the test.

Undaunted by the NCAA and NBA punishing North Carolina over bathroom laws that target transgender persons, powerful Texas Republican lawmakers are pushing to pass similar measures by June, and in doing so are daring leagues to boycott some of the biggest cities and stadiums in the U.S.

The stakes are bigger than Texas: Other GOP-controlled states that watched the economic fallout in North Carolina could grow newly emboldened if sports executives decide that Texas is essentially too big to bail. Conservative lawmakers have filed measures in almost a dozen states that would require people to use bathrooms or facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. LGBT advocates condemn the measures as discriminatory.

As the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons settled in Houston this week, the NFL issued a statement embracing "tolerance and inclusiveness" without comment on Texas' bill or whether it could jeopardize future Super Bowls in Texas. The NCAA, which has 14 championship events booked in the state between now and 2019, declined comment.

Related: New Bathroom Bill in Texas Could Cause Uproar

"Texas wins an outsize number of these events. These really are good facilities. It's a location that's fairly centralized," said Daniel Rascher, president of California-based SportsEconomics, which performs impact studies and financial analyses surrounding major sporting events. "If a determined organization wanted to go elsewhere they would do it, but it is the state that would be the most difficult to avoid."

Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls (three), NBA All-Star Games (three) and NCAA Men's Final Fours (five) than any other state. San Antonio is scheduled to host another Final Four in 2018, and Dallas is hosting the NCAA Women's Final Four in April. The Dallas Cowboys' $1.2 billion, 100,000-seat stadium will also host one of college football's playoff games in 2018.

The lack of public comment so far from the NFL and others may be rooted in hopes of the bill fizzling out before reaching Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Abbott has taken a neutral stance and made no mention of bathrooms while laying out his legislative agenda this week. GOP House Speaker Joe Straus has been more forceful, condemning the proposal as an economic backlash waiting to happen.

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February 5, 2017
 
 
 

 

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