Major League Baseball announced Friday that it will move the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s new restrictive voting law targeted towards minorities.
They said the 2021 MLB Draft, which is part of the All-Star festivities this year, will also be relocated.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league is “finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly.” No word on which city may be picked to host the event.
“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” Manfred said in a 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.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. 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.”
This was scheduled to be the third MLB All-Star Game to ever be hosted in Georgia. Atlanta welcomed the ‘Midsummer Classic’ for the first time at Atlanta Stadium in 1972, and again at Turner Field in 2000.
The Atlanta Braves organization expressed their dismay over the situation.
“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 in a statement. “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. Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.
“Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”
This comes days after President Joe Biden said he would support moving the 2021 All-Star Game away from Georgia.
The White House released a statement on behalf of the President after MLB’s decision.
“The President has made his concerns about the bill passed in Georgia clear, given its extreme provisions that impact the ability of so many citizens to cast their votes,” the White House said. “He said earlier this week that if the decision was made by Major League Baseball to move the All-Star game, he would certainly support that decision – and now that MLB has made that choice, he certainly does.”
A staunch supporter of the bill, mostly due to his belief the 2020 Election was rigged in many states including Georgia, is former President Donald Trump. He slammed MLB’s decision in a statement of his own urging a boycott of baseball and said “all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections” were to blame. The ex-president has propagated several false claims about his losing effort in the election that has resulted in failed legal challenges across the country.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB202 into law last week. The measures includes restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control by state officials over how elections are run. The bill also makes it a felony to distribute food and water to voters waiting in line.
The new voting law came in the wake Joe Biden’s victory in the general election, along with two Senate runoff elections in Georgia that gave Democrats control in Washington.
Stacey Abrams, a voting rights activist in Georgia, tweeted about her disappointment but understanding over MLB’s decision.
“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” Abrams wrote. “I urge others in positions of the leadership to do so as well.”
Abrams was one of many to react to MLB’s decision on Twitter including the newest owner to the sport, LeBron James.
A recent examination of the 98-page bill by The New York Times identified 16 provisions that either hinder Georgians’ right to vote or strip power from state and local elections officials and give it to legislators.
Kemp, angered by MLB’s decision, said in a statement that the league “caved to fear” by moving the All-Star Game.
“I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied,” Kemp said. “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.”