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"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," commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., said in a statement

By Ashley Boucher
April 02, 2021 05:22 PM
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Atlanta Braves stadium
| Credit: Carmen Mandato/Getty

Georgia will no longer be home to Major League Baseball's All-Star Game or the MLB draft.

The decision is in response to legislation signed by Gov. Brian Kemp last week that restricts voting access in Georgia, commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. announced Friday.

"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," Manfred said in a statement.

"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," his statement continued.

Manfred pointed to the MLB's involvement with the non-partisan group Civic Alliance and said "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 sport's unwavering support," he said.

While Manfred did not reveal where the July 13 All-Star Game will end up taking place, he said that the league will still continue its previously planned philanthropic efforts in Atlanta even though it will no longer be the host city.

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"We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season's All-Star festivities," his statement concluded. "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."

The new law in Georgia places several new restrictions on voting, including limits on drop boxes, who is allowed to vote using provisional ballots, new county election board oversight and stripping some authority from the secretary of state, according to the New York Times. It also criminalizes offering food or water to people waiting in line to vote.

The Georgia House passed the legislation along party lines last Thursday with a 100 to 75 vote and went on to be approved in the Senate with a 34-to-20 vote before Republican Gov. Kemp signed it, the New York Times reported.

The law has been denounced by Democrats and has prompted several businesses to speak out against it as well.

President Biden said earlier this week that he would "strongly support" the MLB moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia.

"I think today's professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly," Biden said in an interview with ESPN, per Politico. "I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They're leaders."

According to ESPN, Kemp said in a statement responding to the MLB's decision that he "will not back down."

"Georgians will not be bullied," he said. "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."

In a statement released on Friday, the Braves said the organization is "deeply disappointed" by the MLB's 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 said. "The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event to enhance the discussion."

The statement said that the "victims of this decision" include local businesses, employees and fans.

The MLB Player's Alliance, meanwhile, released a statement in support of the move.

"We will use our voice, our platform, and our partnerships now more than ever to create real, tangible change for the Black community to stand up for every American's right to vote," the statement read in part. "We will not be silenced. We won't back down in the fight for racial equality. We will never stop breaking barriers to the ballot box."