The Atlantic Coast Conference has decided to change its plans and will not hold its post season baseball tournament in Myrtle Beach previously scheduled for a three year period beginning in 2011. The NAACP had threatened to stage protests should the tournament remain in South Carolina. Since 2000, the NAACP has called for a boycott of major collegiate post season sports events being held in the Palmetto state because the Confederate flag continues to fly on the State House grounds.For nearly a decade, the NCAA has honored that boycott. ACC Commissioner John Swofford says the ACC scheduled the event in Myrtle Beach with the understanding that all parties were in agreement with the tournament being held in Myrtle Beach. Swofford says it all comes down unfortunately to a miscommunication. Coastal Carolina Research Economist Dr. Don Schunk says Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand area will no doubt take a major economic hit by the ACC”s about face.
“If they’re spending on average a hundred dollars a day per person, and if they’re staying two, three or four days. it obviously adds up. it gets into many millions of dollars of economic impact. Probably Hundreds of jobs would be created.”
Some observers had said that the NAACP’s boycott had lost its steam. Schunk says the action taken by the ACC shows that the boycott still is viable and has serious ramifications for the economy of the state. “This is may be going to go down as one of the most obvious examples of lost business due to the Confederate flag. Let’s not forget that this is what this is all about is the confederate flag flying in Columbia and the ongoing boycott about that. This could be one of the highest profile economic casualties that we have really been able to pin down because of that boycott.”
Since the compromise was reached to remove the Confederate flag from the State House dome and place it adjacent to the Confederate Monument, the General Assembly has been reticent to revisit the issue. Schunk says after the ACC decision, state lawmakers may decide during the next session that its time to meet the issue head on.
“Ultimately when you try to figure out how to get action at the State House a lot of it comes from economics. This is going to be a high profile example that is certainly going to grab the attention of a lot of people. We have to recognize if Myrtle Beach is losing out economically because we are losing this conference tournament, the entire state loses out because that’s a lot of revenue, a lot of tax revenue, a lot of sales tax revenue, that could have been generated in Myrtle Beach that’s not going to be going to Columbia now.”
Schunk says the move by the ACC leaves a big economic hole in May for the Myrtle beach area, as bikers are being dissuaded from visiting the area in large numbers with their rallies. “Moving forward we suspect that may is going to continue to be characterized by fewer bikers coming in town which used to be the lifeblood of the economy in May. We were looking ahead to the ACC tournament coming in 2011 and filling in a bit of that gap that’s going to be left by the fact there are fewer bikers around in May.”