It was a bad summer for the Charlotte Hornets, as public debate over the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2) led the NBA to pull the 2017 All-Star Game — but team officials hope a slew of weekend dates will help offset the damage.
Ever since it was signed into law this spring, HB2 has been widely criticized as one of the most blatantly anti-LBGT laws in the nation. Among its provisions, HB2 bans North Carolina municipalities from passing their own protection laws for the LBGT community and forces transgender people to use public restrooms that match the gender listed on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity.
It wasn’t just the cancellation of the Charlotte All-Star Game that affected the Hornets: It was also the loss of cancelled high-profile concerts and events (including Cirque de Soleil, Nick Jonas/Demi Lovato and Maroon 5) at Time Warner Cable Arena. And while the Hornets did manage to stay above the fray and could benefit from this fall’s elections (Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed the bill, is losing his bid for reelection, per polls compiled by Real Clear Politics) — if HB2 is changed, the Hornets could land the 2019 All-Star Game.
Until then, the team needs to recover from this horrible summer. The NBA schedulers are doing their part, giving the Hornets an inordinate number of weekend games and avoiding those dreaded back-to-back games. From the Charlotte Observer:
This season’s schedule includes a total of 41 home games, 18 of which fall on a weekend night. That’s three more than the Hornets had last year, and weekend game attendance is always higher, especially on Saturday, said Pete Guelli, the Hornets’ chief sales and marketing officer.
“In Charlotte, the schedule really matters. I don’t think you can say that as much in some of the bigger markets,” said Guelli. “Things like opponent, day of the week or time of the year can have a significant impact on our business model.”
Last year, the Hornets had 13 sellouts and had an average attendance of 17,500 (out of a capacity for 19,000 in Time Warner Cable Arena.) Those figures are the most for both categories since the team came back to Charlotte in 2004.