Opponents of MLB’s decision Monday to move the 2021 All-Star Game to Denver because of Georgia’s new voting law suggest the move could end up hurting Atlanta’s Black residents rather than helping them.
They note the move will deal an economic blow to Atlanta, which is 51% Black, and provide a boost to Colorado’s capital, which is only 9% Black, according to U.S. Census figures.
The “Midsummer Classic” was set for July 13 at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, until the Major League Baseball decided Friday to change its location — a decision that was cheered by several large corporations. On Monday, MLB announced the game will now be played at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.
According to 2019 U.S. Census data, Atlanta is 51% Black and 40.9% White, while Denver is 9.2% Black and 76% White.
Democrats and voting rights advocates argue that Georgia’s new voting law, signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, would make it harder for people, particularly those of color, to vote.
Republican supporters say the law is needed to restore confidence in Georgia’s elections following the contentious 2020 presidential election and Georgia’s two U.S. Senate runoff elections in January.
Ground crews prepare the field at Sun Trust Park, now known as Truist Park, ahead of Game 3 of MLB baseball’s National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Atlanta on Oct. 7, 2018. (Associated Press)
The All-Star Game has historically had a notable, positive economic impact on the host cities, according to data from the Baseball Almanac, as fans, players, sponsors, and other individuals flock to the event. That typically provides business for local restaurants, hotels, and other establishments.
Nearly 30% of businesses in Atlanta are Black-owned, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The 2020 All-Star Game, set to be hosted in Los Angeles, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, which also cut last year’s MLB regular season by more than half its normal length of 162 games. But the 2019 All-Star Game in Cleveland generated an estimated $65 million in regional economic activity.
Workers prepare Coors Field on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Denver, the day before the Colorado Rockies’ season-opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Associated Press)
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement to strip the Braves of the event on Friday in response to the mounting pressure to change the location of the July game following Georgia’s passage of its Republican-backed election reform legislation.
“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 last week. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
The legislation places new restrictions on voting by mail, adds voter ID requirements, and limits ballot drop boxes. It also mandates two Saturdays of early voting ahead of general elections, an increase from just one, and leaves two Sundays as optional. In addition, the legislation bans outside groups from handing out food or water to those waiting in line to vote.
Opponents of MLB’s decision to move the game reacted on social media.
“Moving the game from diverse areas … doesn’t feel like the league is trying to expand its audience,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Why did MLB just move the All-Star Game from Atlanta that’s 51% black — to Denver that’s 9% black?” asked Paul Szypula of New York.
“At least they’re moving from a 51% Black city to a 10% Black city in the name of justice,” wrote Nathan Wurtzel.
“Democrats are really good with their whole ‘racial justice’ thing,” wrote The Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.