On Saturday (April 3), Georgia Governor Brian Kemp held a press conference inside of the State Capitol to address Major League Baseball’s decision to move its 2021 All-Star game away from the state.
Surrounded by several maskless members of the Georgia General Assembly, the governor defended the controversial law he signed behind closed doors in late March. He insisted it “expands access to voting” and “secures ballot drop boxes around the clock in every county.”
“Yesterday, Major League Baseball caved to fear and lies from liberal activists,” he said. “They ignored the facts of our new Election Integrity Law and they ignored the consequences of their decision on our local community. In the middle of a pandemic, Major League Baseball put the wishes of Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden ahead of the economic wellbeing of hard working Georgians who were counting on the all-star game for a paycheck.”
He blamed “cancel culture,” and “partisan activists” for agitating MLB officials and pressuring them to make the move. “They’re coming for your game or event in your hometown,” he continued. “They’re coming to cancel everything from sports to how you make a living. They will stop at nothing to silence all of us. They don’t care about jobs, they don’t care about our communities, and they certainly don’t care about access to the ballot box.”
Abrams, who lost to Kemp in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, released her own statement on MLB’s decision. “Like many Georgians I am disappointed that the MLB is moving the All-Star game out of Georgia; however, I commend the players, owners and league commisioner for speaking out,” she said.
President Joe Biden has been vocal about his grievances with the sweeping elections bill Georgia Republicans initiated as well. When asked by ESPN whether he would support the decision to pull the All-Star Game from the state, President Biden said that he would.
“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that,” Biden told ESPN in an interview on Wednesday, March 31. “People look to them. They’re leaders.”
Two days later, on Friday (April 2), MLB sent a clear message to states considering legislation that restricts voter access. By deciding to pull its draft and All-Star game, which was scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park in Cobb County, the league is letting Republican lawmakers know it will not stand for the countless bills being proposed in over 40 states to limit voter rights.
MLB Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred issued a statement on Friday explaining that his decision was collaborative. Manfred said that he held “thoughtful conversations” with clubs, former and current players, and The Players Alliance before making the announcement. “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,” the statement reads. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
Kemp concluded his five-minute long rebuttal by saying, “We will not be intimidated and we will also not be silenced. Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, and Delta may be scared of Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden, and the left, but I am not and we are not.”
The league is expected to announce a new destination for the All-Star game soon. And Commissioner Manfred confirmed the All-Star ceremony will continue with its plans to celebrate the memory of Henry “Hank” Aaron and provide aid to local communities in Atlanta as part of Its All-Star Legacy Projects.