GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – March Madness is taking over Greenville.
But, that might not have been the case if North Carolina had never passed the controversial HB2 bill, or bathroom bill.
NCAA pulled some of seven of their championship tournament games out of the state last September and relocated them. Greenville got the games that used to be in Greensboro.
“A lot of fun to have the tournament in town,” said Tom Bennett, a Furman student. “We have a lot of people from out of state.”
Hundreds who couldn’t get to the ‘The Well’ packed bars in downtown Greenville.
“There was nothing that was going to stop me from driving down here today,” said Travis Pollack, a Gamecock fan.
The national attention and visitors from all over wouldn’t have been here if North Carolina legislators hadn’t passed their controversial bathroom bill.
“For all the residents of North Carolina, it’s definitely a tragedy, but for South Carolina being able to gain the economic benefit, I think it’s great, and Greenville is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, so it’s great that we have the opportunity to showcase our city,” said Adric Ferguson who lives in downtown Greenville.
Businesses like Carolina Ale House happy to see the extra sales.
Liz Greenway/Carolina Ale House
“It’s pretty special to see what we’ve got going on, and what’s been brought in,” said Liz Greenway, who does marketing for the restaurant. “We hit pretty great sales in our first two hours open this morning.”
People in the trans community say seeing how Greenville is thriving during this tournament is a visual impact of non-inclusive legislation.
“There’s nothing gained from this,” said Madelyn Roy with Gender Benders. “When you shut people out, you’re only hurting yourself.”
Many could claim that North Carolina’s loss is Greenville’s gain.
“We’re really excited,” said Greenway. “It’s really brought such a boost.”
This is the first time the tournament has been back in Greenville in more than decade because the NCAA pulled championship games in South Carolina while the confederate flag was still flying at the statehouse.