There will be lots more of this to come as it advances.
Three groups — with meetings estimated to bring $3.1 million in total spending — no longer are considering the Alamo City for their events because of a bill prohibiting transgender Texans from using bathrooms tied to their gender identity, said Richard Oliver, spokesman for Visit San Antonio, the former Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Another eight conventions already booked for upcoming events in San Antonio have threatened to pull out should the legislation pass, taking with them a projected $19.9 million economic impact that includes spending by convention-goers on area hotel rooms, meals and attractions, he said.
Oliver declined to name the conventions that passed over San Antonio or the gatherings that plan to uproot themselves if state lawmakers pass the bill, but said convention organizers regularly express concern about the legislation.
“Everyone has their radars up regarding this issue,” Oliver said.
The NAACP chose San Antonio for its 2018 annual convention — rejecting a bid from Charlotte after former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Tar Heel State’s bathroom bill into law. The gathering is projected to bring 10,000 visitors and generate an economic impact of $10 million.
Leon Russell, vice chairman of NAACP’s board of directors, said the organization may have to revisit the decision if Senate Bill 6 becomes law.
“It says to people, ‘We openly discriminate and we don’t mind being recognized for openly discriminating,’” Russell said. “That’s not somewhere a lot of people want to come to.”
The NCAA relocated seven championship games scheduled this year from North Carolina to other states. Last April, the organization’s board of governors adopted standards requiring host cities to “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
Local leaders see the moves as an indication the NCAA could pull its Final Four championship from San Antonio in 2018, costing area hotels, restaurants and attractions an estimated $75 million in revenue.
Losing the Final Four championship or NAACP convention would deprive San Antonio of visibility needed to boost the city’s $13.6 billion-a-year tourism industry, Oliver said.
“You lose an event like that and the incredible economic value that that brings to a community, but you also lose … the fact that you are a spotlight city in a spotlight moment,” Oliver said.
And that’s just San Antonio. The visitors and tourism boards in multiple cities have been against SB6 all along, and I’m sure they’d have similar tales to tell as well. As a reminder, here’s the economic impact tracker that Texas Competes has been maintaining. That’s just what has been made public, well in advance of the bill even getting a hearing; again, there is sure to be much more to go with this. The Current has more.