Major League Baseball threw Georgia an economic curveball Friday in protest of the state’s new controversial election law.
The professional baseball association announced it will move the 2021 All-Star Game and MLB Draft, which was set for Atlanta this summer, to another yet-to-be-determined city.
The decision to move the All-Star Game was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport,” Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. The league came to the decision after consulting with teams, former and current players, the MLB Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others.
“We are finalizing a new host city, and details about these events will be announced shortly,” Manfred said.
The MLB’s withdrawal comes a little more than a week after Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Senate Bill 202. The new law requires an identification number to get an absentee ballot, limits drop boxes, gives more authority over elections to the legislature and makes it a crime to give people waiting in line to vote food or drink.
Civil and voting rights groups have gone to court to fight the new law. President Joe Biden criticized the new law earlier this week saying it will restrict voting access for Georgians.
Losing the All-Star game will hurt Atlanta to the tune of millions of dollars. Los Angeles, which hosted the game last year, saw an economic impact of nearly $90 million, according to Baseball Almanac.
“Today, MLB caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies,” Kemp said in a tweet. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”
Manfred went on to say in a statement on mlb.com, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred said. “In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
Though the game will no longer take place in Atlanta, the 2021 Midsummer Classic will still celebrate the memory of the late baseball great Hank Aaron, an Atlanta icon who passed away on Jan. 22. MLB said it will still go forward with planned investments to support local Atlanta communities as part of the All-Star Legacy Projects.
The Players Alliance — an association of over 150 Black current and former professional baseball players — threw its support behind the league Friday.
“We want to make our voice heard loud and clear in our opposition of the recent Georgia legislation that not only disproportionately disenfranchises the Black community but also paves the way for other states to pass similarly harmful laws based largely on widespread falsehoods and disinformation,” the Alliance said in a statement.
Header image by Chris Chow via unsplash.com