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Anti-transgender sports bill causes economic development worries in Tulsa

BOK Center photo
Posted at 11:08 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 00:19:04-04

TULSA, Okla. — The NCAA Board of Governors showed their support for transgender collegiate athletes a few days after an Oklahoma House committee passed an anti-transgender sports bill.

Senate Bill 2, titled "Save Women's Sports Act," prohibits male-born athletes from competing in women's or girls' sports. Language in the bill raises concern over disadvantage for "biological female" athletes.

2 Works for You reached out to its author but did not hear back.

"The sports industry is at imminent risk right now because of SB 2," Tulsa Regional Tourism President Ray Hoyt said.

Hoyt told 2 Works for You the downtown district has generated $27 million in the last decade, in large part thanks to The BOK Center, Convention Center, and ONEOK Field. All three are music and sports venues.

"Sports is a big part of that," he said.

The BOK Center hosts NCAA Tournament games, but the future of March Madness in Tulsa is now up in the air.

The NCAA Board of Governors said in its statement Monday:

The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.

The NCAA has a long-standing policy that provides a more inclusive path for transgender participation in college sports. Our approach — which requires testosterone suppression treatment for transgender women to compete in women’s sports — embraces the evolving science on this issue and is anchored in participation policies of both the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Inclusion and fairness can coexist for all student-athletes, including transgender athletes, at all levels of sport. Our clear expectation as the Association’s top governing body is that all student-athletes will be treated with dignity and respect. We are committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them.

When determining where championships are held, NCAA policy directs that only locations where hosts can commit to providing an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination should be selected. We will continue to closely monitor these situations to determine whether NCAA championships can be conducted in ways that are welcoming and respectful of all participants.
NCAA Board of Governors

"We could be out of the NCAA and a lot of other sports might not choose Tulsa," Hoyt said. "That lost opportunity could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars."

Hoyt said Tulsa has a bid to host the first two rounds of the 2021 NCAA Tennis Championships. The BOK Center was recently selected as the host site for the 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

"That's at risk," Hoyt said. "That's a $17.2 million event."

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