Major League Baseball announced Friday that it is moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia law that affects voting access rights.
The announcement comes one day after President Joe Biden called for the game to be moved out of Atlanta. The All-Star Game was scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.
“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.
“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.”
The Braves said they are “deeply disappointed” about the decision to remove the game from Atlanta.
“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.
“We will continue to support the community legacy projects which have been planned and are in process.”
Manfred said MLB is working on naming a new site for the Midsummer Classic.
“We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities,” Manfred said of the Braves legend who died in January at age 86. “In addition, MLB’s planned investments to support local communities in Atlanta as part of our All-Star Legacy Projects will move forward.
“We are finalizing a new host city and details about these events will be announced shortly.”
Atlanta previously hosted the All-Star Game in 1972 and 2000.
The controversial law was signed last month by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
There are changes regarding absentee voting and the use of voting drop boxes, as well as provisions to require additional identification from voters. It will be considered unlawful to distribute food or water to voters waiting in long lines to cast ballots.
Critics of the law claim it makes it harder for Black people and other minorities to vote.
Kemp criticized MLB’s decision on Twitter and said that the state’s baseball team isn’t happy, either.
“Earlier today, I spoke with the leadership of the Atlanta Braves who informed me they do not support the MLB’s decision,” Kemp said.
Kemp defended the law that has sparked nationwide scrutiny and become a lightning rod in the balloting box debate.
“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and (voting rights activist) Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections.
“I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”
Abrams also released a statement about the loss of the All-Star Game.
“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 said. “I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well.”
The MLB draft is slated for July 11-13.
–Field Level Media