State Politics

Business advocacy group pulls lawsuit over baseball All-Star Game leaving Atlanta

By Nyamekye Daniel 

(The Center Square) – The Job Creators Network has withdrawn its lawsuit against Major League Baseball for pulling its All-Star Game from Atlanta, officials announced Monday.

The small business advocacy group sued on behalf of businesses in the metro Atlanta area, which it said potentially lost $100 million because the league decided to relocate the game to Denver.

A federal judge ruled on June 10 against its lawsuit, which demanded that MLB return the game to Cobb County’s Truist Park or compensate local businesses for the losses.

Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, said the organization would continue to find legal and alternate ways to fight MLB’s decision.

“MLB’s decision to punish these Atlanta small businesses and residents who bear no responsibility for their state’s political action was wrong – no matter what one judge says,” Ortiz said during a media briefing Monday. “The Job Creators Network will continue fighting tirelessly to make it right.”

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 in March. The bill had many tentacles, including revamping absentee voting in the state.

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

The elections reform 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 it would be pulling its All-Star Game events from the city.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said the organization lacked legal standing in the court battle and would not face irreparable harm from MLB’s decision. She also said there is no way the court could determine whether any of the small business owners in the Atlanta area agreed with MLB’s opposition to the law.

On Monday, Ortiz called out some of the names of business owners who were preparing for the influx of revenue from the game and supporting events. According to Ortiz, in one instance, Chris Warren, owner of the Atlanta FastPitch Company, had scheduled an annual competition based on the All-Star Game and has now missed out on thousands of dollars because of its relocation.

“Many of these Atlanta small businesses were preparing for over 21 months and counting on this economic infusion to help overcome the historic losses associated with COVID-19,” Ortiz said. “MLB’s decision deprives them of the opportunity to jumpstart their post-pandemic recovery.”

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 of the game’s relocation.

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