MLB moving All-Star Game from Georgia after state passes new restrictive voting laws

MLB says the 2021 All-Star Game will not be played at Truist Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves.

Major League Baseball announced Friday that this season's All-Star Game and draft will not be held in Atlanta in response to Georgia's recently passed laws that placed new restrictions on voting.

The new host city for the July 13 game has yet to be announced, according to the league.

"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," MLB Commissioner Rob 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."

Georgia recently passed new voting laws, leading critics to call for boycotts of companies based in the state and for sports leagues to consider moving big events. Chief executives and other high-ranking leaders from more than 100 companies, including Target, Snapchat and Uber, issued a public statement Friday opposing any measures that deny eligible voters the right to cast ballots.

"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Manfred said in the statement.

The new law in Georgia introduces new impediments to voting, reducing the number of drop boxes in heavily African American areas and allows the state to intervene to assert control over the conduct of elections in Democratic counties. It shortens the time available for absentee votes and introduces new registration requirements that campaigners say are designed to target Black voters.

"Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said. "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."

Earlier Friday, Kemp, a Republican, tweeted: "Facts are stubborn things. Despite the outrage from the left, we are making it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Georgia."

Voting rights campaigner and former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams said on Twitter that she was disappointed MLB chose to move the game but proud of the league's stance on voting rights.

In an additional statement she posted to Twitter, Abrams said the Republican state legislators who passed the bill did so knowing the economic risks to Georgia.

"They prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians," she wrote in the statement.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms wrote that the actions of elected leaders have consequences.

"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," she tweeted.

League will still honor Aaron

The game was to be played at Truist Park in Atlanta, one of the cities where Hank Aaron, who died in January, earned accolades as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. MLB said Aaron will still be honored at the All-Star Game this summer.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he would "strongly support" moving the game and its festivities from Atlanta.

The Atlanta Braves said the franchise is "deeply disappointed" by the decision to move the game.

"This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will be able to see this event in our city," according to a statement from the team. "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."

The 2022 All-Star Game is scheduled to be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted that the league should call him because "in California, we actually work to expand voter access -- not prevent it."

The Players Alliance, a group of more than 150 current and former Black professional baseball players, supported the move.

"We will use our voice, our platform, and our partnerships now more than ever to create real, tangible change for the Black community to stand up for every American's right to vote," the group said in a statement posted on Instagram.

Precedent for the league's action

MLB is not the first major sports league to move an All-Star Game.

In 2016, the NBA announced it would move its All-Star Game from North Carolina due to the state's controversial transgender bathroom law.

"While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2," the league said in 2016, referring to the state law that requires transgender people who are in government buildings to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex with which they were born.

The game was played in February 2017 in New Orleans. The law was later repealed, and Charlotte hosted the All-Star Game in 2019.

NBA superstar LeBron James, who officially became part owner of the Boston Red Sox this week, tweeted in support of MLB's decision.

"Proud to call myself a part of the @mlb family today. @Morethanavote #BlackLivesMatter," James tweeted.

LeBron James' voting initiative, More Than a Vote, also tweeted about MLB's decision.

Referring to the NBA game in February, the group said, "Over #NBAAllStar in Atlanta, we called on lawmakers to drop their voter suppression bill. They didn't. Now, @MLB has decided to move their All-Star Game from Atlanta. All the states still considering voter suppression bills should take note: Actions have consequences."

CNN's Kevin Dotson, Kay Jones, Jill Martin and John Murgatroyd contributed to this report.

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(14) comments

MarvinGardens

This new law was a solution to a problem that did not exist, but Trump convinced his followers that it did: "widespread voting fraud". Kemp rejected this fraud claim and certified Biden's victory, but nonetheless supported this new law. He knows the real reason for it: To make it harder for poor and working class people to vote. It will also make it harder for the elderly to vote, and so was very short-sighted on Republicans' part.

The Georgia business community did not realize how upset many of us would be about this, and so remained neutral until the bill was signed. Now they are paying the price.

Meanwhile, we Democrats will adjust our ground-game to deal with the new restrictions, and will ultimately overcome them. The loss of business to Georgia will be all for naught. The suppression of elderly Republican votes will be of the Republicans' own making.

ranwill1

I agree; Georgia turns Blue and all of a sudden new voting legislation rules are required in response to the false voting fraud narrative.

MissDaisy

Oh please, there were a number of prosecutable examples of voter improprieties that were/are being prosecuted. Yeah, I know you guys say they were statistically small compared to al the votes. How about compared to the difference in the votes for each candidate; there was no landslide or mandate. Also, how about those prosecutable cases just being the tip of the iceberg?

If you have read the bill it absolutely does not hinder anyone from voting that wants to. It strengthens the electioneering laws that were already in existence. Yes, water can be handed out, just not by candidate supporters within 150 feet of a polling place, Poll workers can provide water and outside the 150 feet, anyone can provide water or anything else.

The business community/chamber of commerce is blatantly pandering to the black politicians in the metro Atlanta area. If you have to have an ID to board a Delta airplane; you should have to have one to vote.

Yes, I expect the Stacy Abrams "groups" will continue to seek ways to over come the security of our voting process just as they did when the COVID adjustments were made for voting.

Voting should be a formal activity. Not spread out over several week, nor by mail, nor drop-box, nor absentee except in a very few exceptional cases. Each of the 159 counties run their own voting polling places; they have the ability to adjust the number of sites to whatever their voting citizens' needs are.

MarvinGardens

Why do you think the Black politicians in Atlanta oppose this? Put yourself in their ​shoes.

Why do you put the word groups in quotes when referring to Stacey Abrams? Does Stacey Abrams not have the right to form or lead groups of people who advocate change? In your eyes, are her actions illegitimate?

Entire states vote by mail. Many elderly people vote by mail in their golden years. Early voting has been with us for a more than a decade. Yet you have decided that these voting methods are illegitimate. Why? You do not explain yourself, but you owe us an explanation.

MissDaisy

I owe you nothing. The black (yes, small b) oppose more security in voting because it allowed the shenanigans that Stacy's "groups" used to harvest ballots. I used the term groups instead of militias; Fair Fight and New Georgia Project as examples. Did the financial problems Stacy had while running New Georgia Project ever resolved?

I understand the new law and what it provides. However, I can still have my opinion of how it should be. I assume differing opinions are still allowed?

JustSayin

There is nothing in this legislation that limits legitimate voters’ rights. In fact, much of the legislation actually expands access to voting and makes it more convenient (unless of course you are trying to vote illegally). Biden either did not read the legislation or he did and simply does not comprehend it (which, unfortunately, is very likely). His false statements basically gave MLB the cue to move the All Star game and because Manfred and the MLB have proven to be spineless, they caved to a false narrative.

CC

"false narrative" - Like the one that there was massive voter fraud in the last election that necessitates these new voter laws? The "expands access to voting and makes it more convenient" parts of this legislation are things that were already being done (the extra Saturday of early voting was already being done is most populous counties). Cutting in half the window to request an absentee ballot, significantly cutting the number of ballot drop boxes available, and significantly reducing the availability of those drop boxes that remain are all things in this legislation that "limit legitimate voters' rights. So, either you did not read the legislation or you simply do not comprehend it.

Mercie

Georgia will be better off without them, at least voting will be fairer. The left just upset cause they lost a little control. You have to have a ID to get a Covid shot why not to vote.

CC

Georgia goes blue, costing the GOP the presidency and the Senate, multiple organizations find virtually no voter fraud, then the GOP passes new voter laws to combat fraud. But, it's the left that are upset over losing control? There is much more in this voter legislation than requiring IDs.

twlatl

The MLB was the last major sports org to go woke, and now they’ve drunk the koolaid. I’m done supporting any sports org that plays politics and would rather virtue signal than uphold election integrity. I’ve canceled my plans to see any MLB games and have canceled my MLB.TV subscription. I’m done with these jackals and will not support any org that plays politics. Done.

RetiredMCO

Hockey is still good for most part.

therockof57

Our Georgia State Representatives and Governor represents the voters of Georgia and not any businesses including MLB, Delta, Target and etc. Please learn how to read and understand the bill/law signed. The national media and the Biden administration are trying to push a political agenda of voter suppression. The election law signed brings back integrity and fairness. It will make every legal vote count. What is wrong with showing an "ID" to vote, keeping food and water from being handed out within 150 feet of a voting place, or proving who you are when requesting and submitting an absentee ballot. You have to show ID to fly, purchase alcohol, restrict food and drinks to MLB games. Just handle your business dealings and we will handle our state representatives and our elections

CC

"Please learn how to read and understand the bill/law signed." - There is much more in the law than just voter ID requirements and handing out food & water (which has been made illegal to hand out to those in line to vote, no matter how far away from the polling place you are). Early voting for runoff elections has been significantly shortened, the "extra Saturday" of early voting now mandated by the new law was already offered in most large counties, ballot drop boxes are no longer available when polling places are closed and are not available 3 days prior to the election date (when you really need them most), there will be 3 times fewer ballot drop boxes in the metro-Atlanta area (mostly democratic & people of color), the amount of time to request an absentee ballot has been cut in half, and the law significantly removes the Secretary of State's authority over elections and puts that authority in the hands of a GOP-appointed elections board. Virtually every one of these provisions disproportionately benefits red counties and/or disproportionately affects blue counties.

RetiredMCO

Go "woke", get broke.

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