Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred tied the All-Star Game to Georgia’s voting law when he moved the event out of Atlanta, but he refused to elaborate Tuesday on how he plans to apply that standard going forward.
Mr. Manfred, speaking to the Baseball Writers Association of America hours before the All-Star Game in Denver, left the door open for Atlanta to host the event in coming years, although he declined to say how Georgia’s election rules would need to be reconfigured first.
“I’m not going to get into what I would need to see changed,” said Mr. Manfred, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Atlanta is an important market to us, and it will certainly be an option at some point in the future.”
He also refused to speculate on whether the league would take Texas out of the running if the state Legislature passes a GOP-backed elections bill, a measure that prompted state House Democrats on Monday to stage a walkout.
Texas has two MLB teams: the Texas Rangers, which unveiled a new ballpark in Arlington last year, and the Houston Astros.
“I think the decision, with respect to Atlanta, was probably the hardest thing I’ve been asked to do so far,” Mr. Manfred said. “I’m kind of hoping it’s going to be the hardest thing I’m asked to do, period. Having said that, I’m not going to speculate who’s going to pass what law and where we might take jewel events. It’s hard enough to deal with it in the concrete, real time. I just don’t think it’s productive for me.”
Mr. Manfred pulled the All-Star Game from Atlanta’s Truist Park on April 2, saying the MLB “opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” and relocated the game and MLB Draft to Denver’s Coors Field after Democrats decried the law as “Jim Crow 2.0.”
The commissioner did not explain which provisions in the law he opposed. The Election Integrity Act of 2021 requires voter identification for absentee ballots; reduces the number of drop boxes from pandemic levels; expands early voting, and prohibits non-poll workers from “electioneering,” or offering items such as food and water, within 150 feet of a polling place.
The league has awarded the 2022 All-Star Game to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Mr. Manfred’s decision to switch venues prompted an outcry from Republicans. Both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican National Committee are planning to air ads during the festivities condemning the move, which cost Atlanta an estimated $100 million.
My friend, Melvin Everson, hits a home run. https://t.co/5YcaRhdc0Z
— Patrick T. Malone (@PARpat) July 13, 2021
The seven-figure RNC ad buy, with the spot slated to air nationwide during the Tuesday game, features the Rev. Melvin Everson, a former Georgia Republican state legislator.
“This was supposed to be Atlanta’s night, but we were robbed,” says Mr. Everson in the ad. “Democrats stole our All-Star game to push their divisive political agenda.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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