Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told ESPN that he’s moving his team to New York in 2017, since there’s a chance a transgender player could be drafted and not be able to use the Panthers’ locker room.
“We are troubled by this new law,” Richardson said. “It could keep us out of the Super Bowl.” He added, “If another team had a transgender player, we would have to move the game away or forfeit, and that would be terrible.”
Since North Carolina passed HB2 and overturned Charlotte’s locker-room accommodation ordinance, the team is worried they wouldn’t be able to draft a transgender player. The ACC, NBA, and NHL are also monitoring how the NFL is handling this new situation. From the Charlotte Observer:
The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance worked in conjunction with N.C. State, city and county officials to bring the NCAA tournament to Raleigh this month for the second time in three years. The alliance also has played a major role in securing such events as the College Cup – the NCAA soccer championship – at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“I have seen the statements from national governing bodies expressing their concerns,” Dupree said. “As of now we (the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance) have had no event cancellations. And I personally have not received any inquiries on this issue from sports event owners or planners.
“There are a lot of unknowns at this point. Of course we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Head coach Ron Rivera said he’d play wherever the team moved.
The team is reportedly negotiating for a new stadium to be built on the grounds of the long-abandoned Hincliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey. “It’s an easy commute from New York City,” Richardson said. “We may be the third New York team along with the Jets and Giants. The economy certainly supports it.”
Civil rights advocates approve. “We can’t let those bigots in North Carolina stop us,” Buzzy Zoeller, an LGBT supporter, said. “Hincliffe Stadium is dedicated to civil rights, so it’s a perfect location.”
So, Panthers fans, you may see the team in different colors in 2017, and the first transgendered NFL player could be playing just west of Yonkers. It serves North Carolina right for being so bullheaded about men and women not being able to share a locker room.