Report: MLB Holding 'Preliminary' Talks over Calls to Move 2021 All-Star Game

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

The stadium awaits fans to arrive at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, to attend the memorial for Baseball Hall of Famer and Braves legend Hank Aaron, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Atlanta. Just 2 1/2 weeks before his death Friday, Han 22, 2021, at age 86, Aaron joined civil rights icons to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He wanted to spread the word to the Black community that the shots were safe in the midst of a devastating pandemic. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Major League Baseball has reportedly held "preliminary conversations" about whether to move the 2021 MLB All-Star Game away from the Atlanta Braves' Truist Park after Georgia passed a new law that restricts voting rights and has led to three federal lawsuits against the state. 

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Wednesday that MLB, which he described as a "fundamentally conservative sport" from a political perspective, must weigh the potential it could further "alienate" Black players with its decision if it keeps the Midsummer Classic in Atlanta.

The league will need to work quickly if it decides to move the All-Star Game because there would be a "logistical deluge" to change the location before the event's scheduled date on July 13, per Passan.

MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark told Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe the "players are very much aware" of what's happening in Georgia.

"As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue. If there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation," Clark said Thursday.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times suggested MLB should give Georgia officials until April 15, when the league celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, to either change the legislation or force the league to move the All-Star Game to another city in support of Black voters most likely to be affected by the law.

The law, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed on Thursday, includes limits on ballot drop boxes, strict requirements for voter identification for absentee ballots, gives state officials more control over local elections and bans providing food and water to voters standing in lines, among other restrictions.

Cobb County chairwoman Lisa Cupid, a Democrat who opposed the Republican-led effort to change the state's voting laws, urged MLB to keep the event at Truist Park.

"I recognize that some do not want to play baseball here in Cobb County because our state legislators have not played fair," Cupid said Tuesday. "And I agree. Time and time again, we have proven the integrity of our 2020 elections. Still, some choose to create a solution to a problem that did not exist."

Georgia, where President Joe Biden scored an upset win over incumbent Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, is one of the traditionally Republican states that have moved forward with efforts to restrict voting rights based on the unproven claim of widespread voter fraud in last year's election.

Biden called the new law an "atrocity" that's being reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department. Trump congratulated Georgia's Republicans for passing the legislation.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement about voting in September as several of the league's stadiums were opened as polling locations.

"The right to vote is a pillar of American democracy, a privilege that we should all appreciate and exercise," Manfred said. "I'm proud of our sport's role in encouraging baseball fans and communities throughout the country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process."

Los Angeles has already been announced as the host of the 2022 All-Star Game, so a return to Atlanta likely wouldn't be available until at least 2023 if this year's event is moved.