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Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred

(The Center Square) – A small business advocacy organization has sued Major League Baseball to return the All-Star Game to Atlanta.

In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Job Creators Network demands executives immediately resume plans to host the game in Atlanta or 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," Job Creators Network President and CEO Alfredo Ortiz said. 

MLB moved the game from Atlanta to Denver after the Georgia General Assembly approved and Gov. Brian Kemp signed an elections overhaul bill into law on March 25. The bill had many tentacles, including revamping absentee voting in the state.

Under the bill, absentee voters will have to write their driver's license number, identification card number, voter registration number or the last four digits of their Social Security number with their birthdate on ballots. The measure also made changes to the locations of ballot drop boxes and bans mobile polling stations.

Proponents said the law increases election security and integrity. Opponents argued it will disenfranchise Black voters and compared the measure to civil rights limits on Black people during the Jim Crow Era.

It drew criticism from Atlanta-based businesses Coca-Cola and Delta, along with President Joe Biden and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. MLB announced April 2 that it would be pulling its All-Star Game events from the city.

"This was a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia's new voting law, which includes voter-ID", Ortiz said. "Major League Baseball itself requests ID at will-call ticket windows at Yankee Stadium in New York, Busch Stadium in St. Louis and at ballparks all across the country."

The All-Star Game, scheduled for July, was supposed to be held at Truist Park, the home field of the Atlanta Braves in Cobb County.

Cobb County budgeted expenses of $2 million for improvements and municipal hiring to meet the expected influx of tourists and fans for the big event, attorneys for Job Creators Network said. About 41,000 fans were expected to attend. Previous MLB All-Star Game events have generated between $37 million and $190 million for their host communities.

Other local governments in the metro Atlanta area also were counting on the boost in tax revenues, Job Creators Network said. It claimed more than 8,000 hotel reservations were canceled because MLB pulled the game from Atlanta. 

"Small businesses in this community had valid contracts relating to the All-Star Game and other events, the result of two years of planning and all that was ripped away by fear and misinformation spewed by political activists. Many states, including Colorado where the game has been moved to, have similar or more restrictive election laws," Ortiz said. "This move essentially tells fans of teams in many other cities that they can never again host the All-Star Game; it's hypocritical, illegal, and we won't stand for it."

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, the Major League Baseball Players Association and association Executive Director Tony Clark also are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association did not immediately respond to request for comment Tuesday.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for five years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.