by KATIE CAVINESS | Sinclair Broadcast Group
A small business advocacy organization filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Major League Baseball, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, the Major League Baseball Players Association and executive director Tony Clark.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Job Creators Network.
The suit demands the Major League Baseball All-Star Game return to Atlanta immediately or the "defendants pay $100 million in damages to local and state small businesses."
“MLB robbed the small businesses of Atlanta – many of them minority-owned – of $100 million, we want the game back where it belongs,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.
Ortiz said MLB requires identification in order to collect will-call tickets at ballparks across the country; Ortiz said this requirement makes the decision to move the All-Star Game a "knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation."
MLB decided to move the game from Truist Park in Atlanta in response to Georgia voting rules signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25. Critics, including the CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, have condemned the changes as being too restrictive.
The Georgia laws include new limits on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run, amid a push in Republican-led states to reduce voting options after former President Donald Trump made baseless claims of widespread fraud in last year’s election.
Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft from Atlanta after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.
Kemp has vowed to defend Georgia’s voting measures, and other Republicans have criticized MLB’s move.
Below is data provided by the Job Creators Network:
More than 8,000 hotel reservations were canceled.
Revenues from ticket sales, concessions and events at Truist Park – including the Futures Game and Home Run Derby Contest – by the more than 41,000 fans expected, were lost.
According to Cobb County Chief Financial Officer William Volckmann, the county would receive a “robust return” on its roughly $2 million investment to host the events. Previous MLB All-Star events have generated between $37 million and $190 million for their host communities.
Atlanta is 51% African-American, Denver is 9% African-American. U.S. Census data indicates there are roughly 7.5 times more African-American-owned businesses in Georgia than Colorado.
MLB representatives had not publicly commented on the lawsuit as of Tuesday morning. The sports organization officially announced the All-Star Games' new venue in April. The first pitch will be thrown at hitter-friendly Coors Field in Denver on July 13.
Coors Field last hosted the All-Star Game in 1998. The Los Angeles Dodgers are set to host the All-Star Game next year.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this report.