COBB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -- Job Creators Network, a group representing small businesses, is suing Major League Baseball over the league’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Cobb County.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is requesting baseball officials return the All-Star Game to Cobb County or pay $100 million in damages to local and state small businesses.
The All-Star game was set to play in Cobb County at Truist Park in July. However, in April, baseball officials voted to move the game from Cobb County to Denver, Colorado because league officials disagreed with Georgia’s revamped election law signed by Governor Brian Kemp.
Major League Baseball officials said Georgia's voting law changes are too restrictive and disenfranchise minority voters. When announcing the move, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
Job Creators Network, a conservative advocacy group, said many minority businesses in Georgia were impacted by the MLB’s decision to relocate the All-Star Game.
“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. “This was a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia’s new voting law which includes Voter-ID. 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 group's lawsuit said:
• More than 8000 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 in Colorado.
“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 officials have not responded to the lawsuit.