Major League Baseball acted quickly and decisively on Friday, moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Truist Park in Atlanta. The decision came a little over a week after Georgia passed a law restricting voting by mail and giving the state legislature more oversight over elections.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “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.”
In addition to the All-Star Game, which was scheduled for July 13, all the activities surrounding the event, like the Futures Game, Home Run Derby, and the MLB Draft, are all being moved out of Atlanta.
The election law was passed by Georgia state legislature on March 25. From Zack Beuachamp at Vox:
The bill, known as SB 202, gives state-level officials the authority to usurp the powers of county election boards — allowing the Republican-dominated state government to potentially disqualify voters in Democratic-leaning areas. It criminalizes the provision of food and water to voters waiting in line, in a state where lines are notoriously long in heavily nonwhite precincts. It requires ID for absentee ballots and limits the placement of ballot drop boxes.
Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times wrote in a column last week that MLB should consider moving the All-Star Game, just as the NBA did with its All-Star Game in 2017, taking the game away from Charlotte after anti-LGBTQ legislation in North Carolina.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will manage the National League for the third time in four years after winning the 2020 World Series, said Friday he would consider not managing in the game if the game was still held in Georgia.
“When you’re trying to restrict African American votes, American citizens, that’s alarming to me to hear,” Roberts said. “If it gets to that point, it will certainly be a decision I’ll have to make personally.”
Roberts on Friday, after MLB’s decision was announced, said he supports the league’s decision, and that he did speak with Manfred about the All-Star Game.
“It’s a great game for us, but for it to continue and to flourish, we have to be in it together, and this is a huge step towards that,” Roberts said Friday.
MLB Players Association president Tony Clark told the Boston Globe on Friday, “As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue. If there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation.”
Per Evan Drellich of The Athletic, moving the game was an MLB decision that did not require the approval of the players union, nor will deciding where the game will now be played.
It is unclear where the 2021 All-Star Game will now be held, but Dodger Stadium, which will host the 2022 game, isn’t being considered for this year, per Jorge Castillo at the Los Angeles Times.