MLB Pulls All-Star Game From Atlanta, Georgia in Response to Voting Law
The league said it was finalizing details about new locations for this year’s All-Star Game, which was scheduled for July 13, and the draft. Before the announcement, baseball had faced the unsettling prospect of celebrating an All-Star week dedicated to the former Atlanta Braves great Hank Aaron, a Black pioneer of the game who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, against the backdrop of a Georgia elections overhaul widely seen as targeting Black voters.
Mr. Kemp, who has been forcefully defending the law in television appearances this week, criticized the decision to move the All-Star Game and tried to pin the blame on state Democrats for their vocal criticism of the voting restrictions.
“Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies,” Mr. Kemp said in a statement, calling out Mr. Biden and Stacey Abrams, the titular head of the state’s Democrats. He continued: “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”
Georgia Democrats had not called for a boycott of the game, but were building pressure on Major League Baseball and Georgia-based corporations to oppose the state’s voting law.
Ms. Abrams, who ran against Mr. Kemp for governor in 2018 and may challenge him again next year, said Friday that she was “disappointed” league officials had pulled the All-Star Game but that she was “proud of their stance on voting rights.”
For now, the fallout from baseball’s decision is more political and civic than financial. The impact on the Georgia economy of losing the All-Star Game is minimal, said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College, because most of the tickets would be sold locally and many of the typical festivities would most likely be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But, Professor Zimbalist said, Major League Baseball is taking a risk with a move that could alienate conservative fans. After the country’s top professional basketball and football leagues embraced the Black Lives Matter movement last year, they faced organized boycotts from conservatives, though the effort ultimately had little effect. And baseball’s fan base is older and whiter than basketball’s or football’s.