Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that the 2021 All-Star Game will be played in Denver instead of Atlanta, sending a social-justice signal by moving from a city with a 51% Black population to one where Black residents represent just 9%.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that Coors Field in Denver was chosen as the venue because the Colorado Rockies organization had already supplied a detailed plan for hotels, event space and security as part of its bid for a future game.
“Major League Baseball is grateful to the Rockies, the City of Denver and the State of Colorado for their support of this summer’s All-Star Game,” Mr. Manfred said. “We appreciate their flexibility and enthusiasm to deliver a first-class event for our game and the region.”
The move came after Mr. Manfred announced Friday that the MLB would pull out of Atlanta over the Democratic outcry about the Georgia Election Integrity Act, which President Biden called “Jim Crow on steroids” and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams ripped as “Jim Crow 2.0.”
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” said Mr. Manfred in his Friday statement.
The decision comes as a hit to Atlanta, which will lose an estimated $100 million with the relocation of the All-Star Game. Nearly 30% of the city’s businesses are minority-owned.
In addition, Denver is 76% White—the largest White population of any of the 30 MLB cities—while Atlanta has a Black majority, according to the 2019 Census update.
Critics point out that the MLB is based in New York, whose election laws are in some respects tougher than Georgia’s. New York allows nine early-voting days versus 17 for Georgia under the new law, and New Yorkers must provide a reason for requesting an absentee ballot, while Georgia is a no-excuse state.
Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican, noted that Colorado, an all-mail ballot state, has 15 early voting days, two fewer than Georgia.
“The @MLB is moving the #MLBAllStarGame out of ATL which has more day-of voting rights than CO?” Mr. Scott tweeted. “The Wokes are at it again, folks.”
At a virtual press conference, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said he was “absolutely honored and thrilled” to host the All-Star Game, saying that it “all moved very quickly.” Colorado last hosted the annual game in 1998.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis sidestepped a question about whether Colorado’s election law played a role in the decision, saying that, “I think Colorado is simply the best place to showcase all the amazing talent of major league baseball. This is really about giving a great fan experience.”
Colorado has tougher novel coronavirus restrictions than does Georgia, but Mr. Polis said he has “no concerns from that front,” given that the state is on track to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine by mid- to late-May, “which means immunity by late June.”
The 91st annual MLB All-Star Game is scheduled for July 13.
“Plenty of room there, and I think everyone expects a fully packed sellout stadium in July, and that’s going to be good for Major League Baseball, good for Colorado, and an exciting experience for fans,” Mr. Polis said.