A Texas-based business group is suing Major League Baseball saying the organization had no right pulling its All-Star Game and Draft event from Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s new election reform law.

The 21-page lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in New York by the Job Creators Network, calls for the MLB to return the All-Star game to Atlanta. The suit also seeks $100 million in damages to local and state small businesses and another $1 billion in punitive damages. JCN is a conservative small business advocacy group.

If the suit is unsuccessful in its attempts to return the event to Atlanta, The All-Star Game is slated to be played in Denver next month.

“MLB robbed the small business of Atlanta – many of them minority-owned – of $100 million. We want the game back where it belongs,” Alfredo Ortiz, JCN’s president and chief executive officer said in a prepared statement. “This was a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia’s new voting law which includes Voter-ID. Major League Baseball itself requests ID at will-call ticket windows at Yankee Stadium in New York, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and at ballparks all across the country.”

Atlanta, Cobb County, and the state now have to endure a huge financial hit as it still recovers from COVID-19, Ortiz went on to say. His organization also noted:

  • More than 8,000 hotel reservations were canceled.
  • Revenues from ticket sales, concessions, and events at Truist Park – including the Futures Game and Home Run Derby Contest – by the more than 41,000 fans expected, were lost.
  • According to Cobb County Chief Financial Officer William Volckmann, the county would receive a “robust return” on its roughly $2 million investment to host the events. Previous MLB All-Star events have generated between $37 million and $190 million for their host communities.
  • Minorities, in particular, would be negatively impacted. Atlanta is 51 percent African-American, as compared to Denver’s nine percent. U.S. Census data indicates there are roughly 7.5 times more African-American-owned businesses in Georgia than in Colorado.

“Small businesses in this community had valid contracts relating to the All-Star Game and other events. The results of two years of planning and all that were ripped away by fear and misinformation spewed by political activists. Many states, including Colorado where the game has been moved to, have similar or more restrictive election laws,” Ortiz said. “This move essentially tells fans of teams in many other cities they can never again host the All-Star Games; it’s hypocritical, illegal and we won’t stand for it.”

Monday’s lawsuit is the latest pressure JCN has exerted against the nation’s second-largest sports association.

Shortly after MLB’s April 2 decision to withdraw from Atlanta, Job Creators sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred criticizing the decision. It followed up the letter with a billboard in the heart of Times Square that says “HEY COMMISH ROB: Keep Your Eye On The Ball… Not Politics.” The billboard is just blocks from Manfred’s office. The network also ran a full-page ad in The New York Times.

Headquartered in Addison, Tx., Job Creators Network was founded by entrepreneurs, including The Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. The organization’s partners include groups from around the country. Its Georgia partners are The Cobb Chamber, The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Restaurant Association, The Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Georgia Motor Trucking Association, The Georgia Poultry Foundation, Roswell Inc., The Georgia Agribusiness Council, the Georgia Society of Association Executives and the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce.

View the lawsuit here.

(Header image by Chris Chow via unsplash.com)