“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. “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,” he added.
It’s unclear where the All-Star Game, originally scheduled for July 13 at Atlanta’s Truist Park, will be held.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms met the news with grim resignation.
“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she tweeted Friday. “Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”
The Atlanta Braves said they were “deeply disappointed” by MLB moving events from their city, but came out in support of voting rights.
“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.”
Newly elected Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) also denounced the MLB’s decision for unnecessarily punishing the people of Georgia, and he condemned the law that prompted the league’s move.
“It is my hope that businesses, athletes, and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community,” he said in a statement.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), meanwhile, responded with a fearmongering rant on Twitter, characterizing the relocation as an “attack on our state” and warning Georgians that “cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included.” (Kemp aggressively purged voters that didn’t serve his party while serving as Georgia’s secretary of state, canceling 1.4 million voter registrations between 2012 and 2018.)
In an interview with ESPN on Wednesday, President Joe Biden told SportsCenter host Sage Steele he would be supportive if MLB decided to decamp for a more hospitable state.
“The very people who are victimized the most are the people who are leaders in these very sports,” Biden told ESPN. “And it’s just not right. This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing there in Georgia and 40 other states.”
Last week, Georgia’s Republican-controlled government pushed through sweeping new restrictions that limit access to the ballot box. Among other things, the law imposes strict voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, limits ballot drop-box locations, gives the legislature greater control over elections, and criminalizes offering food and water to voters standing in line.