The Battery is a bustling venue with shops, bars, and restaurants from local chefs in Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves MLB team, as the facility is currently closed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Atlanta, Georgia , Sports will be quarantined on April 18, 2020.
David J. Griffin | Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Major League Baseball is discussing the status of its 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta as more companies publicly oppose a new electoral law recently passed in Georgia.
The league gathers feedback from teams and executives on the matter before making a decision to move the game. The baseball midsummer event is scheduled for July 13th at Truist Park, home of Braves.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told The Associated Press the league was expecting “substantial talks” with MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark about relocating the game. But Manfred didn’t go into detail about MLB’s plan or his stance on the new law.
“I speak to different constituencies within the game and I just don’t go beyond what I would or would not consider,” said Manfred.
The Georgian legislature has passed a law that will revise the state elections. The new law adds guidelines for postal ballot papers and voter registration, and gives state officials more authority in conducting elections. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the amendments on March 25th.
Critics of Georgia’s new electoral laws say it will suppress votes, especially among people of color in underserved areas. In an interview with ESPN, President Joe Biden criticized the changes, calling them “Jim Crow on Steroids”. The president added that he would support the relocation of the MLB All-Star game.
Kemp was defending the law when he appeared on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Wednesday, saying it gave more people the opportunity to vote on weekends.
On Wednesday, top Wall Street executives including Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck, Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, and Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express, expressed displeasure with the new law.
“Companies have to stand up. There is no middle ground,” said Chenault, who appeared with Frazier on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”. Executives urged more companies to publicly oppose elements of Gregoria’s revised electoral laws.
Should the city lose the game, it could suffer financially.
According to the Atlanta Journal constitution, local taxpayers would pay $ 2 million to spend to host the MLB event but get a great return on that investment. The 2019 All-Star Game should gross Cleveland $ 65 million. According to the baseball almanac, the last Atlanta location for the game generated $ 49 million in 2000.
“There is an economic impact,” said Bill Squires, sports facilities and event management expert. “People will be traveling there on the weekend. Check out the home run contest and game on Monday. There are hotels, Uber, restaurants, airfares, and rental cars – there is no doubt the economic impact.”
While moving the game around could be logistically difficult, Squires, who formerly ran Yankee Stadium, said he would be shocked if MLB didn’t have a contingency plan yet, especially if there was a pandemic. He used the National Football League as an example.
“If you know how sport works, think about the NFL with the situation with the San Francisco 49ers who couldn’t play at Levi Stadium and quickly moved to State Farm Stadium in Arizona,” said Squires, who also Is a lecturer at Columbia University. “The contingency plans are always in place. They have to be. I would be shocked if every league didn’t have a backup plan for the primary location as it depends on what is going on in the world.”
Robert D. Manfred Jr., Major League Baseball Commissioner, presents the Commissioner’s Trophy to Houston Astros owner Jim Crane after the Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles had defeated California.
Alex Trautwig | Getty Images
Does MLB have an attitude?
Should MLB postpone its competition, it would not be the first time a professional league has postponed a significant event due to a controversial law.
In 2016, the National Basketball Association removed its 2017 All-Star Competition from North Carolina after House Bill 2, also known as the “Bathroom Bill”, restricted rights in the LGBT community. The NCAA also suspended its championship events in the state. The bill was eventually overturned and the NBA returned the event to Charlotte in 2019.
“It has damaged our reputation, discriminated against our people, and wreaked economic harm in many of our communities,” said Roy Cooper, governor of North Carolina in 2017 after the bill was repealed.
However, with MLB remaining calm in its stance, it could damage baseball’s image. Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, said the lack of action from MLB could alienate younger fans.
“If MLB is serious about targeting younger audiences, and that has been a major goal, their actions on the matter will say a lot,” Rishe said. “These younger fans want the brands they use to be synonymous with something, and they also want their teams and their leagues to be synonymous with something.”
MLB opens its 2021 regular season on Thursday, reverting to a 162-game format after only 60 games were played last season due to the pandemic.