GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It's called Tournament Town for a reason, and an NCAA decision to reconsider North Carolina as a host state for championship games will allow Greensboro to build on that reputation.
The NCAA Board of Governors decided to "reluctantly" bring North Carolina back into the conversation for host over the next four years, after a boycott of the state because of House Bill 2.
Lawmakers repealed the bill, replacing it with a compromise last week. The NCAA says the new bill "minimally" met the sports organization's requirements for inclusive environments for athletes and fans, but also cited North Carolina's good history for hosting these events.
"North Carolina and Greensboro in particular has made our hospitality and welcoming nature as a part of who we are, and a part of our DNA," President of the Greensboro Sports Commission Kim Strable said. Strable says North Carolina is historically the third most popular state for hosting NCAA championships because of the climate, location, hospitality industry and many more factors folks take pride in.
"It’s taken years to develop that type of reputation, that type of relationship with those folks," Strable said.
Now that the law has been repealed, Strable is thrilled to be back in the mix. The decision means Greensboro's 55 championship hosting bids are now back in play, which in total could bring in more than $180 million in economic impact.
"Our volunteers in Greensboro, I’ll put them up against any in the country," he said. "They’re fabulous."
The NCAA decision means Greensboro gets three championship sites back for 2017 and 2018. The first of which is happening this fall, the Division III men and women's soccer national championship. Greensboro will also get the Division II men and women's swimming and diving championship for the Aquatic Center in spring of 2018, and the Division III men's golf championship hosted by the Grandover Resort for May 2018.
The state has 131 bids, but that doesn't mean the selection committee will pick every single one.
"The committees were instructed to treat all bids fairly and equally as if there were no issues whatsoever on anything, we also know the committees are composed of human beings," Strable said, having been on those committees in years past.
Strable hopes moving forward from HB2 the city can maintain a reputation plastered up on the billboard outside the Visitor's Bureau, "Where everyone's a VIP."
The NCAA will announce championship site locations through 2022 on April 18.