Georgia Says Losing All Star Game Will Cost Atlanta Businesses Over $100 Million in Tourism Revenue

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, CNN

Major League Baseball’s decision to move its All-Star Game out of Georgia over the state’s voting restrictions will cost local businesses more than $100 million in lost tourism dollars, according to Atlanta-area tourism industry officials. 

Cobb County Travel and Tourism Bureau chief Holly Quinlan said during a Friday news conference that the game, which was scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park, “would have been a big boost” to local hotels, transportation, entertainment, restaurants and retail, many of which are still trying to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the initial stages of the pandemic, many Cobb [County] hotels saw single digit occupancy numbers," Quinlan said. "The 8,000-plus MLB contracted hotel room nights that will not actualize as a result of the MLB All-Star Game relocation will have a negative impact on Cobb's hospitality industry and other local businesses, further delaying recovery,” she told CNN

Quinlan, who said she was “disappointed” but understood the MLB’s decision, believes this is “an opportunity to reflect on what occurred and to determine what we can do to address some of the challenges with this legislation, to encourage voter participation and inclusion in this state.”

Signed into effect by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, the law introduces restrictions for mail-in ballots, voter registration and gives state officials more authority over local elections boards. Kemp and other supporters say the voting overhaul will increase confidence in Georgia’s voting system.

Civil rights groups, Democrats and a growing number of Georgia-based corporations, including The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:  KO) and Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:  DAL) have blasted the law, saying it will suppress votes, especially among people of color in underserved areas.

Last week, President Joe Biden equated it to “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and said he would strongly support moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response. 

Amid growing backlash, the MLB announced Friday that this season’s All-Star Game and draft will not be held in Atlanta in response to the recently passed law and it was in the process of picking a new venue.  

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game's unwavering support."

Immediately after the announcement, Republicans criticized the MLB, as well as other organizations that have publicly opposed the new voting law. 

Former president Donald Trump has called for a boycott of the MLB and other groups over their opposition and Kemp accused the league of caving to “fear, political opportunism and liberal lies.” ()  

MLB “ignored the facts of our new election integrity law and they ignored the consequences of their decision on our local community,” said Kemp, who added that he “will not be backing down from this fight.”

The Atlanta Braves said the franchise is “deeply disappointed” by the outcome. 

"This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city," according to a statement from the team. "Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision."

The Braves, who have for years reiterated their stance that the team name isn't racist or being considered for change, made no mention of their players, employees and fans who will be adversely affected by the new voting legislation. 

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Source: Equities News

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