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Asheville Seeks To Preserve SoCon Tournament, 'Welcoming' Reputation

North Carolina has already lost a series of college sports tournaments because of opposition to House Bill 2. The NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference announced last week they are pulling 17 events from the state for this academic year.  

Now the fate of another event is uncertain.  Southern Conference officials are considering whether to relocate the basketball tournament scheduled to take place March 2-6, 2017 in Asheville, because of the state's controversial law that limits non-discrimination protection for LGBT people.  

On Tuesday, local government and civic leaders in Asheville talked with Southern Conference commissioner John Iamarino and made their case for keeping the tournament in the mountain city. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer says the city is in a good position to ensure that all visitors feel welcome at the event. "Because the conference is held in the city's facility, the U.S. Cellular Center, we can control those facilities," Manheimer said. 

Manheimer added that Asheville prides itself on being an open and welcoming community. "This is not a place where you should feel judged - this is a place where you should feel comfortable and welcome," the mayor said.