Kinston estimates $350,000 loss due to NJCAA relocating Division III World Series

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KINSTON, NC (WITN) - Grainger Stadium, a place where people across Eastern Carolina have enjoyed baseball for more than six decades, is being impacted by House Bill 2.

Last week, the National Junior College Athletic Association decided to move its world series out of Kinston due to the law and the mayor isn't pleased.

"Instead of being the kind of leader that sits down and discusses differences, instead of working through the challenges in a constructive dialogue, Mayor Roberts has chosen political discourse," says Kinston's mayor, BJ Murphy.

He says he wants Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts to have meaningful discussion with Governor McCrory so other rural communities, like Kinston, do not have to experience the same loss of income.

According to Kinston's Park and Recreation director, the economic impact of losing the third year of a three-year deal for the Division 3 Baseball World Series is $350,000 and businesses in Kinston do not think that's fair.

"This is something we all look forward to," says Lori Burger, the general manager of East Coast Wings. "We have been doing it for years so we staff up for it. We will have jobs lost because now they are not going to be here. We will have the monetary loss to the businesses because they will not be here. It is just a sad, sad thing."

Money aside, Mayor Murphy believes the bigger cost will be at the expense of children who look up to the collegiate athletes who were set to play again at Grainger Stadium.

"Mayor Roberts chose politics over policy," he says. "Mayor Roberts chose politics over the people. And Mayor Roberts chose politics over Kinston's youth."

Murphy says he will not take position on HB2 because he is not a state legislator or city council member in Charlotte.

The executive director of the NJCAA says the decision to pull the world series was made because HB2 does not encourage an inclusive environment.

Murphy sent a letter to the Sports Association asking for reconsideration.

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The Mayor of Kinston is urging the NJCAA to reconsider hosting the Division III World Series in Kinston for 2017.

After the announcement was made that the game was being pulled from North Carolina because of House Bill 2, Mayor Murphy wrote to the organization pleading with them to reconsider.

Murphy's letter says in part, "Politics has no place in sports. While the NJCAA may have the freedom to remove the Division III World Series from the City of Kinston it is my hope that the grave collateral damage that this decision will unjustly create, may cause pause and reconsideration."

Murphy says the removal of the game will cost the city of Kinston an estimated $350,000 and unfairly punish kids who could be future NJCAA athletes.

The executive director of the NJCAA did respond to Mayor Murphy, saying that the decision to relocate the game "was not an easy one nor was it done without considerable forethought."

Further, Mary Ellen Leicht wrote, "The mission statement of the NJCAA
emphasizes the promotion and governance of competitive athletics in an inclusive environment for all student-athletes, coaches and administrators of its member colleges. The NJCAA believes that the current HB2 law in North Carolina poses specific challenges to the inclusive environment that we believe should not be in question at its national championships."

Leicht also says that the "decision is in no way a reflection on the community of Kinston..."

You can read the full letter from Mayor Murphy to the NJCAA and the Executive Director's response on the Mayor's website, bjmurphy.org.


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There's more impact here in Eastern Carolina because of House Bill 2

The National Junior College Athletic Association Division III World Series will not be held next year in Kinston.

Kinston/Lenoir County Parks & Recreation Director Bill Ellis says they were notified of the decision yesterday to move the games out of North Carolina because of the controversial law. He said the NJCAA backed out of its last year of a three-year agreement to hold the games in Kinston.

Ellis says the eight teams were scheduled to play Memorial Day weekend at Grainger Stadium. He said about 8,000 people attended the games, and estimates the financial loss to the city to be around $350,000.

Ellis says there's no word on where the games will be played.

Two weeks ago, the NCAA announced it would move its women's golf regionals out of Greenville because of the law.