MLB Moving All-Star Game From Atlanta In Response To Georgia’s New Voting Law
Updated at 6:40 p.m. Friday
Major League Baseball is relocating this year’s All-Star Game from Truist Park — home of the Atlanta Braves — in Cobb County, a response to Georgia enacting a new voting law last month.
MLB had awarded the game to Atlanta in May 2019, and the game was scheduled for July 13 as part of baseball’s midsummer break that includes the Futures Game on July 11 and Home Run Derby the following night.
Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft, which had been scheduled to be held in the Atlanta area for the first time.
A new ballpark for this year’s events wasn’t immediately revealed.
In a statement, Manfred announced the move after talking with a number of groups, including the Major League Baseball Players Association, individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” said Manfred in the statement. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
MLB’s announcement came eight days after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.
“Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support,” Manfred said.
The new Georgia law adds strict identification requirements for voting absentee by mail, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line, among many other provisions.
Georgia Republicans say changes were needed to maintain voter confidence in the election system. Democrats and voting-rights groups say the law will disproportionately affect communities of color.
Kemp issued a statement, following Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Georgia.
Today, @MLB caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies.
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 2, 2021
“Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies. Georgians — and all Americans — should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.
“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections. I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections. Earlier today, I spoke with the leadership of the Atlanta Braves who informed me they do not support the MLB’s decision.”
Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston, a powerful Republican who backed the voting law changes, said the baseball league’s decision “robs Georgians of a special celebration of our national pastime free of politics.”
— Speaker David Ralston (@SpeakerRalston) April 2, 2021
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said she supports MLB’s decision. Atlanta will no doubt share in the economic loss, though the Braves’ home stadium is now located outside the city, in suburban Cobb County.
Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected. Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.
— Keisha Lance Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) April 2, 2021
After MLB pulled the All-Star Game out of Atlanta on Friday, the Atlanta Braves issued a statement saying the team was disappointed.
The Braves statement regarding the moving of the MLB All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/0Iapm3eIre
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 2, 2021
“This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city,” the team said. “The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.”
Other sports have moved high-profile events because of social issues.
In the early 1990s, the NFL shifted the Super Bowl out of Arizona after the state failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday.
The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, when the league took issue with a state law that cut anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The NCAA for years didn’t hold championships in states where the Confederate battle flag was officially recognized.
This year’s All-Star Game will include honoring Hank Aaron, the Braves’ Hall of Famer and former career home run champion who died on Jan. 22 at age 86.
“We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities,” Manfred said. “In addition, MLB’s planned investments to support local communities in Atlanta as part of our All-Star legacy projects will move forward. We are finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly.”
MLB canceled last year’s All-Star Game, which had been scheduled for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, due to the late and shortened season caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The 2022 game will be played at Dodger Stadium.
MLB has awarded the 2026 All-Star Game to Philadelphia as part of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
The 1972 All-Star Game was played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and the 2000 All-Star Game was at Atlanta’s Turner Field.
WABE digital team contributed to this report