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MLB moves All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to voting restrictions


NEW YORK — Major League Baseball announced Friday it was moving this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta’s Truist Park, a response to Georgia enacting a new law last month restricting voting rights.

MLB had awarded the game to Atlanta in May 2019 and the game was scheduled for July 13 as part of baseball’s midsummer break that includes the Futures Game on July 11 and Home Run Derby the following night.

Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft, which had been scheduled to be held in Atlanta for the first time. A new ballpark for this year’s events wasn’t immediately revealed.

MLB’s announcement came eight days after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.

Manfred made the decision after discussions with the Major League Baseball Players Association, individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.

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

“Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support,” Manfred said.

Other sports have moved high-profile events because of social issues.

In the early 1990s, the NFL shifted the Super Bowl out of Arizona after the state failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday.

The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, when the league took issue with a state law that cut anti-discrimination protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The NCAA for years didn’t hold championships in states where the Confederate battle flag was officially recognized.

This year’s All-Star Game will include honoring Hank Aaron, the Braves’ Hall of Famer and former career home run champion who died on Jan. 22 at age 86.

“We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities,” Manfred said. “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.”

MLB canceled last year’s All-Star Game, which had been scheduled for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, due to the late and shortened season caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The 2022 game will be played at Dodger Stadium.

MLB has awarded the 2026 All-Star Game to Philadelphia as part of the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

The 1972 All-Star Game was played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and the 2000 All-Star Game was at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

Georgia’s new voting law – which critics say unfairly limits access to the ballot box, especially for people of color – has prompted calls from as high as the White House to consider moving the midsummer classic out of Atlanta.

In the face of repeated assertions by former President Trump that Georgia’s election was fraudulent, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a sweeping new law that would, among other things, place new ID requirements on absentee voting by mail and prohibit handing out food and water to voters standing in line.

Supporters of the law have said it merely ensures election integrity and stamps out potential fraud. Others have said the motives are more sinister after an election that registered nearly 5 million votes with no credible evidence of serious wrongdoing.

Everyone from President Biden to Manfred to the head of baseball’s powerful players union, Tony Clark, saying that moving the game to another city should be on the table.

Biden told ESPN he would “strongly support” pulling the game out of Atlanta because of a law he described as “Jim Crow on steroids.”


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Updated: April 2, 2021 — 8:34 pm

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