Could Salt Lake City lose 2023 NBA All-Star Game over controversial bill?

There could be other ramifications of Utah's controversial bill to ban transgender students from participation in girls high school athletics, if lawmakers override the governor's veto, as expected Friday: The Utah Jazz could lose the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

There could be other ramifications of Utah's controversial bill to ban transgender students from participation in girls high school athletics, if lawmakers override the governor's veto, as expected Friday: The Utah Jazz could lose the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox attached a five-page letter Tuesday explaining his decision to veto HB11, the controversial bill that would ban transgender girls from competing in girls' high school sports events.

In his lengthy explanation, Cox expressed concerns over how the bill was rushed through without public input, how it left the Utah High School Athletic Association unprotected against lawsuits, and how it felt like an attack on a very small number of high school athletes (the UHSAA said it knows of only four transgender athletes — with only one transgender student playing on a girls team).

All those aside, there could be other ramifications of the bill if lawmakers override the governor's veto, as expected (a special session of the Utah Legislature has been called for Friday to override the veto). The most high-profile possibility: The Utah Jazz could lose the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

In 2016, North Carolina passed a bill that limited anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms or locker rooms in schools and government buildings based solely on their gender identity.

In response, the NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte. The city later hosted the event two years later, after the bill had been repealed.

Similarly, Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game from Atlanta last season after Georgia passed a controversial restrictive voting law.

So could the NBA All-Star Game set to be held in Salt Lake City next February suddenly be in danger if the bill is made into law?

"We're working closely with the Jazz on this matter," NBA spokesman Mike Bass told KSL.com.

The Utah Jazz have not yet made an official statement on the controversial bill, but team owner Ryan Smith weighed in on the matter. Smith, who has had a history of public support for the LGBTQ community, tweeted his opposition to the bill on Wednesday.

"We need to love these kids. This bill was rushed, flawed, and won't hold up over time. I'm hopeful we can find a better way. Regardless, to all in the LGBTQ+ community, you're safe with us," Smith tweeted on Wednesday.

The NBA estimates All-Star Weekend has about a $100 million economic impact for the host city.

Could the mere possibility of losing an event which is expected to bring an influx of money into the city and surrounding areas be enough to offer up a change of heart? That'll be answered on Friday.

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Utah LegislatureState of UtahUtah travel and tourismUtah K-12 educationUtah JazzSports
Ryan Miller has covered the Utah Jazz for KSL.com since 2018.

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