Georgia’s controversial, recently passed voting rights law is already impacting sports: MLB is moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement on Friday, saying that after consulting with teams, former and current players, the Players Association, and the Players Alliance — a group of Black former and current players — he determined that “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
Taking an unusually forward political stance, Manfred wrote that “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
Georgia’s new voting rights law, signed by Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, introduces more stringent ID requirements for absentee voting, severely restricts the use of ballot dropboxes, and makes it illegal for volunteers to bring food and water to voters waiting in line.
Opponents say that the law is meant as a voter suppression tactic, motivated not by the nearly non-existent evidence of voter fraud, but by a desire of the Republican legislature to win upcoming elections, namely the Governor and Senate races in 2022.
“We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we’ve seen since the Jim Crow era,” said Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler.
Expressing disappointment over the decision, the Atlanta Braves released a statement saying that “the Braves organization will continue to express the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.”
The move is a costly one for Atlanta: the MLB All-Star Game regularly brings in $60 million to $89 million to its host city.