Concerns that Texas lawmakers will adopt legislation similar to North Carolina’s House Bill 2 have spread beyond the basketball court and San Antonio’s potential loss of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four. Now, there is a fear the so-called “bathroom bill,” could have a more far-reaching impact on the Alamo City’s economy.
“It would be devastating for us for years to come,” said San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association Executive Director Liza Barratachea. “It’s a huge concern for us.”
North Carolina’s HB2, formally known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, includes language that requires transgender people to use government-operated restroom facilities that coincide with the gender recognized on their birth certificate. HB2, condemned by critics as an act of discrimination against the LGBT community, has already cost Charlotte the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
High-ranking Texas officials, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have suggested they support similar legislation for this state.
Patrick posted on his Facebook page in April, “I’m totally disgusted with the threats from sports teams, entertainers and some major corporations who want to punish cities and states who want to keep men out of ladies’ rooms. The world has gone mad, and we must stand and fight.”
Since then, he has told reporters, “I think the handwriting is on the bathroom wall: Stay out of the ladies’ room if you’re a man.”
The loss of the Final Four would be a huge blow to San Antonio, costing it as much as $75 million in economic impact, according to City Manager Sheryl Sculley. Losing the event would likely also generate plenty of negative media exposure for the city.
But the fallout from passage of legislation similar to HB2 could extend far beyond the Final Four. One business sector that could especially feel the heat is San Antonio’s tourism industry.
HB2 has reportedly cost North Carolina cities millions of dollars in lost convention bookings and leisure travel revenue.
The NCAA is concerned about keeping its biggest sporting events out of discriminatory environments. Last month, I reported that the organization was reaching out to cities seeking to host championship games — and to cities already awarded such events, including San Antonio — requiring responses to a questionnaire dealing with potential discrimination issues. One thing the NCAA wants to know is whether its prospective host cities are in states that regulate choice of bathrooms in a way that could affect event participants and fans.