ATLANTA (WSAV) — The 2021 All-Star game is moving out of Atlanta over new voting restrictions in Georgia, the MLB announced Friday.
The league said it is finalizing a new host city and will make an announcement “shortly.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said the MLB supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes any restrictions to the ballot box.
The league engaged in conversations with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association and The Players Alliance over the last week to listen to their views, Manfred said.
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. 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.
We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities. 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.
Gov. Brian Kemp called the MLB’s move a “knee-jerk decision” based on “liberal lies.” His full statement:
Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies. 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.
This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from Joe Biden and 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. Earlier today, I spoke with the leadership of the Atlanta Braves who informed me they do not support the MLB’s decision.
The Braves released a statement saying they are, “deeply disappointed by the decision.”
“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 statement continued. “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.”
Abrams, founder of voting rights group Fair Fight Action, said she’s disappointed in the MLB’s decision, “but proud of their stance on voting rights.”
“Republicans who passed and defended Senate Bill 202 did so knowing the economic risks to our state,” she stated. “They prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians.”
Republican Rep. Buddy Carter, who represents the Savannah area, called the move “pathetic.”
“Totally caving to the lies of the Left. Boycott the MLB,” he tweeted.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the league’s decision is one others will likely follow until “unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”
The game was scheduled for July 13. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has sent a letter to Manfred lobbying for his city to host the game, saying: “It is a particularly appropriate location to honor Hank Aaron who is a revered and beloved former Milwaukeean.”
The Associated Press contributed