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

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

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

In his lengthy explanation, Cox expressed concern about how the bill was rushed through without public input, how it left the Utah High School Athletic Association unprotected from lawsuits. and how it felt like an attack on a very small number of high school athletes (the UHSAA said it only knows of four transgender athletes – with only one transgender student playing on an all-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 was called on Friday to override the veto ). The most publicized 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 restrooms or locker rooms in schools and buildings. government based solely on their gender identity.

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 The city then hosted the event two years later, after the bill was repealed.

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

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

“We are working closely with the Jazz on this issue,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass told

The Utah Jazz have yet to make an official statement on the controversial bill, but team owner Ryan Smith has weighed in on the matter. Smith, who has a history of public support for the LGBTQ community, tweeted her opposition to the bill on Wednesday.

“We have to love these kids. This bill was rushed, flawed, and won’t stand the test of time. I hope we can find a better solution. Anyway, to all members of the LGBTQ+ community , you are safe with us,” Smith tweeted on Wednesday.

The NBA estimates that All-Star Weekend has an economic impact of approximately $100 million for the host city.

Would the mere possibility of losing an event that should bring an influx of money to the city and its environs be enough to offer a change of heart? The answer will be Friday.

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