College Sports

ACC not looking to move football title game from Charlotte because of HB2

The ACC Championship Game appears safe in Charlotte through 2019 despite controversial House Bill 2. Commissioner John Swofford said Thursday the conference is not considering moving previously scheduled games.
The ACC Championship Game appears safe in Charlotte through 2019 despite controversial House Bill 2. Commissioner John Swofford said Thursday the conference is not considering moving previously scheduled games. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s role as host of the ACC football championship game through 2019 appears safe, so long as the city and venue promote “inclusive environments,” commissioner John Swofford said Thursday.

Swofford, at the conclusion of the ACC’s annual spring meeting, said the league would not consider pulling any previously scheduled championship games out of North Carolina because of controversial N.C. House Bill 2. But the law could put any future title games that have yet to be scheduled at risk.

The ACC has adopted a recently created NCAA policy stating the host cities and venues should have “commitments to provide safe and inclusive environments.”

Since the passing of HB2, the Carolina Panthers, who own Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium where the ACC title game is held, had not commented. Instead, they directed media to statements of inclusiveness from stadium operations director Scott Paul from 2015.

But Thursday the Panthers, through team spokesman Steven Drummond, affirmed their support of equality.

“We are aware of the statement from the Atlantic Coast Conference and support the commitment to equality and inclusion,” the Panthers’ statement to the Observer read. “As we stated last summer, after 20 years of operations, we undoubtedly have had transgender persons attend events here and, presumably, they have used the restroom of the gender with which they identify.

“Our organization is against discrimination and has a long history of treating all of our patrons at Bank of America Stadium with dignity and respect.”

The ACC’s football championship game has been held annually in Charlotte since 2010 and is scheduled through 2019.

Whether the game can, or will, continue in Charlotte past that game is unclear because of HB2.

Since lawmakers passed HB2 in March, several prominent entertainers, including Bruce Springsteen and the band Pearl Jam, have canceled events in North Carolina. The NBA is considering pulling its 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte.

“Obviously, it’s playing out in ways that I guess none of us have envisioned,” Swofford told reporters at the Amelia Island conference. “So I think a lot of us are dealing with something we’ve never dealt with before. But it could (keep events out of North Carolina).

“We’ll have to see what the end point is. What’s the end result of all this?”

Raleigh News and Observer reporter Andrew Carter contributed.

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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