Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred announced Friday that the 2021 All-Star Game will no longer be held in Atlanta.
The decision follows an election law signed on Wednesday by Georgian government leader Brian Kemp, which opponents say disproportionately deprives people of color. It is one of the first tangible responses to the law, denounced earlier this week by business leaders in the United States.
Restaurants, hotels, car rental companies and other businesses make money when these big events come to town. The MLB All-Star game generated about $49 million for the local economy when it was hosted in Atlanta in 2000, according to Baseball Almanac. The 2019 All-Star Game was expected to come in $65 million for Cleveland, according to the same site.
“Over the past week, we’ve had thoughtful conversations with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association and The Players Alliance, among others, to hear their views,” said Manfred. “I’ve decided the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is to move this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
Georgia’s new law adds guidelines around mail ballots, voter registration and gives state officials more authority over how elections are conducted. Critics say the law will suppress votes, especially among people of color in disadvantaged areas.
“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of the elected,” Atlanta mayor said Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Twitter: of MLB’s decision. “Unfortunately, the removal of GA’s @MLB All Star game is likely to be the first of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers placed to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions on the ballot box,” Manfred said. “In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the impartial Civic Alliance to help build a future where everyone participates in shaping the United States. We have proudly used our platform to empower baseball fans and communities across our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to votes continues to have the unshakable support of our game.”
Manfred said MLB will honor commitments to support local communities in Atlanta. The competition is still finalizing a new host city and “details on these events will be announced shortly,” he said.
“Today, Major League Baseball succumbed to fear, political expediency and liberal lies,” Georgia Governor Kemp said in response. Georgians — and all Americans — should fully understand what the MLB’s rash decision means: cancel culture and wake up political activists for every aspect of your life, including sports. If the left disagrees with you, facts and the truth does not matter.”
“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies by Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that will increase ballot access and ensure the integrity of our election,” Kemp added. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to champion safe, accessible and fair elections. Earlier today I spoke with the Atlanta Braves leadership who informed me that they do not support the MLB’s decision.”
The Atlanta Braves baseball team said on Twitter on it is “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
“This was not our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city. The Braves organization will continue to emphasize the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped that our city could use this event as a platform to amplify discussion. Our city has always been known as a unity in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues important to our community. Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”
CNBC’s Jabari Young contributed to this report.
Correction: This story was updated to remove a reference to the 2020 All-Star game in Los Angeles, which was cancelled.