'Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.'
In response to the recent measures undertaken by the state of Georgia to change election regulations, Major League Baseball has decided to relocate the 2021 All-Star Game and the first-year player draft out of Atlanta this year. The game was originally scheduled for July 13 at the Braves' Truist Park.
Commissioner Rob Manfred on Friday released the following statement through the league, saying the move is the "best way to demonstrate our values as a sport." Here's Manfred's full statement:
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.
Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. 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 game's unwavering support.
We will continue with our plans to celebrate the memory of Hank Aaron during this season's All-Star festivities. 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.
As Manfred's statement says, a new host city has not yet been determined. According to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, the new host will not be Los Angeles, which is slated to host the All-Star Game in 2022 at Dodger Stadium.
President Biden recently announced his support for such a decision by MLB. Prior to that, Players Association director Tony Clark perhaps foretold such a step when he told the Boston Globe that the union body is "very much aware" of the situation in Georgia and the potential optics of holding the All-Star Game in the state. The Players Alliance, which is committed to increasing Black participation in baseball at all levels, released a statement in support of MLB's decision. It reads:
The Players Alliance stands united in support of Major League Baseball's decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game out of the state of Georgia during this pivotal time of racial turmoil and inequality. We want to make our voice heard loud and clear in our opposition of the recent Georgia legislation that not only disproportionately disenfranchises the Black community, but also paves the way for other states to pass similarly harmful laws based largely on widespread falsehoods and disinformation.
While we will support those in need in whichever city the game is ultimately relocated to, we will also uphold our commitment to those Georgians we've already planned to serve. 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.
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.
On the other side of the issue are the Atlanta Braves, who were to be the host team for the game. They released the following statement in response to MLB's decision to pull the game out of Georgia:
The Atlanta Braves are deeply disappointed by the decision of Major League Baseball to move its 2021 All Star Game.
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 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. Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.
Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.
We will continue to support the community legacy projects which have been planned and are in process.
The bill, which was recently signed into law by Georgia governor Brian Kemp, includes "new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature greater control over how elections are run," according to CBS News. It has been opposed by both Democrats and voting rights groups who believe the law will "disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color."
MLB previously was pressured to move the All-Star Game out of Phoenix in 2011 in response to the state's immigration policies, but then commissioner Bud Selig opted not to do so. More recently, the NBA relocated its All-Star Game out of North Carolina in 2017 as a response to that states laws targeting members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
This story was originally published to CBS Sports on Friday, April 2.