Proposed Texas Law a Threat to Tourism | Athletic Business

Proposed Texas Law a Threat to Tourism

The NFL took a strong position on Friday in a public announcement countering proposed Texas legislation that would require transgender persons to use public restrooms corresponding to their biological sex rather than their chosen gender, saying the bill may prevent the league from hosting future Super Bowls in Texas, per The Huffington Post.

“The NFL embraces inclusiveness, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told the Houston Chronicle. “If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”

Senate Bill 6, or the Texas Privacy Act, was introduced by state republicans in January and resembles a similar law passed in North Carolina, the controversial HB2. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the 15 republican senators sponsoring the bill intend to persist with SB6, despite loud resistance from business leaders, tourism groups and other politicians. 

Such opposition warns of the potential damage to Texas’ national reputation, which could result in the loss of conventions, sports championships and other out-of-state events. Patrick has dismissed these warnings as “fear-mongering,” and said he favors the proposal on the grounds of promoting public safety, calling it one of the conservative principles that protect Texas values.

However, if North Carolina’s experience is anything to go on, the tourism industry’s fears could be very real. After passing House Bill 2, North Carolina was removed as a host city from several high-profile competitions, including the NBA All-Star Game, the NCAA Tournament games and the ACC football title game. All in all, Forbes has estimated that the state will lose $100 million in tourism-based revenue.

Texas is already scheduled to host several major NCAA and Big XII competitions in the next two years, including the 2017 women’s basketball Final Four in April, the Big XII conference football championships later this year and the 2018 early-round men’s NCAA Tournament games. However, SB6 could complicate this schedule and would likely prevent the state from hosting All-Star games in the future.

The proposed legislation could also prove an obstacle to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has expressed his ambitions to the Super Bowl back to the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, as well as his hope that the NFL draft will be moved to the Cowboys’ new facility in Frisco.

In California, a law went into effect the first of January forbidding government employees or agencies from traveling to states where a law “has the effect of voiding or repealing” protections covering sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The California Attorney General has already banned state-supported travel to Kansas, North Carolina, Mississippi and Tennessee, and would certainly extend the ban to Texas.

University of Texas athletic director Mike Perrin told Hook’, “As states look at passing those laws, they’ve got to look at the impact not only on sports but on entertainment, business recruiting, the whole mobility issue on hiring separate and apart from event issues. It’s a big issue.” 

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