It’s official. A short time ago, the office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced that the All-Star game would be moved out of Atlanta, where it was scheduled to played. The move is intended as punishment for the State of Georgia’s passage of an omnibus bill designed to restores integrity to elections.
You wouldn’t know that judging from the statement, which claims its purpose is to show “support voting rights for all Americans” and opposition to “restrictions to the ballot box.” It sounds as though the commissioner’s understanding of the new law is based on the pack of lies delivered this past Tuesday by Joe Biden, who told ESPN the day after:
I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They’re leaders.
Once again, it appears Biden is living in another century, in a time when athletes were heroes.
So what does Georgia stand to lose as a result of the MLB’s holier-than-thou posturing? The last All-Star Game that was played, in 2020, (last year’s game was canceled because of the COVID-shortened season) brought in revenues of $65 million to the city of Cleveland. The last time Atlanta hosted the Midseason Classic, which was in 2000, the city enjoyed a $49 million spike in reviews.
Moving the game elsewhere will have economic impacts above and beyond player bonuses, TV rights sales, and stadium vendors. According to Bill Squires, an expert in sports facilities and event management, the indirect economic impact will be felt by area hotels, ride share services, restaurants, airfare, rental cars, and more. And if the lost revenue weren’t bad enough, this all comes one year after the service industry was devastated by the pandemic.
What this will do to the future of “America’s pastime” isn’t hard to predict. Baseball’s attendance numbers and TV ratings have been in freefall for decades. This could mark the end of the sport as we know it.