Major League Baseball announced Friday that this year’s All-Star Game and MLB draft will be relocated out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s new voting law, saying it fiercely “opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement just one day after the season began over mounting pressure to change the location in response to Republican-backed election reform legislation recently signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.
“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,” he 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 continued. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
President Biden said in an interview with ESPN this week that he would “strongly support” the July 13 game being relocated in response to the law that he called “Jim Crow on steroids.”
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“I think that today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that,” Biden said. “People look to them, they’re leaders.”
Manfred said that despite changing cities, MLB will still continue its support of local business in Atlanta.
“We will continue our plans to celebrate the memory of hank Aaron during this season’s All-Star festivities,” he said. “In addition, MLB’s planned investments to support local communities in Atlanta as part of our All-Star Legacy Projects will move forward.”
The league did not announce a new location, but Manfred said they were working to finalize a new host city.
The recently enacted law places new restrictions on voting by mail, adds voter ID requirements and limits ballot drop boxes. It also mandates two Saturdays of early voting ahead of general elections, an increase from just one, and leaves two Sundays as optional. The law also bans outside groups from handing out food or water to those waiting in line to vote.
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The game was scheduled for July 13 as part of baseball’s midsummer break that includes the Futures Game on July 11 and the Home Run Derby the following night.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.