‘Award a future MLB All-Star Recreation to be performed at Truist Park’

Max Fried (54) starting pitcher of the Atlanta Braves delivers a pitch during the MLB game between the St.Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves on July 6, 2022 at Truist Park in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston is calling on Major League Baseball to award Atlanta another chance to host an All-Star Game after its decision to move last year’s Midsummer Classic to Denver over the state’s controversial voter law.

Speaker Ralston tweeted a letter addressed to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred dated on July 6. It reads in part:

“In a few weeks, the 2022 MLB All-Star Game will take place in Los Angeles. As this event approaches, I am reminded that you unjustly deprived the State of Georgia of the opportunity to host the 2021 All-Star Game in reprisal for our work to make voting more accessible and secure through Georgia’s Election Integrity Act (Senate Bill 202).”

Atlanta was stripped of baseball’s All-Star Game last summer. It was instead moved to Denver’s Coors Field in response to Georgia’s controversial voting law. Manfred decided on the move after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd.

Critics of Georgia’s voting law said it unfairly limits access to the ballot box, especially for people of color. It is a claim Ralston refutes writing:

“I will assume that your hasty decision was not intentionally malicious but rather was based on the false and misleading information circulated by liberal politicians and special interest groups at the time. You will recall that the Wall Street Journal wrote that the President Biden’s claims about SB 202 were ‘malarkey.’

“In criticizing Stacey Abrams’ claims about the bill, the WSJ wrote ‘Georgia has had record voter numbers in recent years, including outstanding Black turnout, and these proposals won’t reverse that.’ Having just completed a statewide primary election in May under the provisions of SB 202, we can report there was a record early-voting turnout with no credible claims of irregularities and that the WSJ was correct.”

Those who opposed the move said in addition to Truist Park losing ticket sales and concessions at the game and various events, the area surrounding the stadium was directly impacted. It was estimated about 41,000 fans would attend each of the events. It also said about 8,000 hotel reservations were canceled.

Ralston also pointed to the economic impact the All-Star move had on metro Atlanta writing:

“As our own Atlanta Braves said, ‘Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of [your] decision.’ Some estimates placed the economic impact of an All-Star game played in Atlanta at approximately $100 million. That’s a lot of food taken off the tables of families in Georgia.”

Many economists question the figures that were thrown around, most commonly $100 million.

JC Bradbury, an economist at Kennesaw State University, said his studies have shown that an entire baseball season generates maybe an extra $150 million in spending in Cobb County. Bradbury said he believes people spend money they generally would have spent at other locations in metro Atlanta. It’s a tiny slice of the region’s $422 billion annual economy.

Ralston concludes his letter writing:

“I would hope that this mistake would be corrected and some of the economic damage caused by your decision can be improved.

“As such, I call on you to award a future MLB All-Star Game to be played at Truist Park in the coming years. The sooner this announcement is made, the quicker we can all put this unfortunate incident behind us.”

The 98-page “Election Integrity Act of 2021” was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp on the evening of March 25, 2021, just a few hours after it was approved by the Georgia General Assembly. Since then, the state held its primaries for the upcoming Midterm Election. The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office said the law “struck a good balance between the guardrails of access and security.” It pointed to record turnout during the early voting period and higher overall turnout as proof.

The MLB All-Star events also were supposed to honor Hank Aaron, the Braves’ Hall of Famer and former career home run champion who died on Jan. 22, 2021, at age 86. It would have been the third time Atlanta serves as host, having previously held the event in 1972 and 2000.

Los Angeles is scheduled to host this year’s events and Seattle is already slated for the following year. Philadelphia was awarded the 2026 Midsummer Classic.

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