(NEW YORK) — Major League Baseball has been hit with a lawsuit for moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta following controversy over Georgia’s recent restrictive voting law.
Job Creators Network, a conservative-leaning business group, filed the lawsuit on Monday of the Southern District in New York, where MLB is headquartered, demanding the July 13 game return to Atlanta.
The complaint says the metro Atlanta area has suffered “staggering” financial losses from relocating the game, citing how more than 8,000 hotel reservations have been canceled. More than 41,000 MLB fans were expected to attend All-Star game events, it said.
Job Creators Network claims Atlanta businesses will lose $100 million if the game is not held in Atlanta and is requesting that amount in damages to local businesses as well as $1 billion in punitive damages.
The lawsuit names MLB, the MLB Players Association and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark as defendants in the 21-page complaint.
On April 2, MLB announced the All-Star game would be moved out of Truist Park in Georgia after the Election Integrity Act, which was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, became law.
Republicans claimed the overhaul of Georgia’s election code expands voter access in the state but Democrats slammed it as “Jim Crow” laws. The law will require voters to have a photo ID to vote by mail, shorten early voting periods before runoffs and effectively ban non-election workers from providing food and beverages to voters in line.
“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement announcing the decision. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
President Joe Biden condemned the Georgia law in late March, saying he supported MLB’s decision to move the game.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia,” he said to ESPN.
The All-Star game was rescheduled to take place in Denver.
Job Creators Network, which is based in Addison, Texas, argued in the lawsuit that the move “intended to punish Georgians because their state enacted a reasonable ballot-integrity statute … The Act had nothing to do with baseball.”
The complaint noted that past MLB All-Star events have generated millions of dollars for host cities, citing how New York City saw $190 million in economic activity after hosting the game in 2013.
The CEO of Cobb County, Georgia’s tourism arm, estimated that relocating the game cost the local economy $100 million.
The suit requests a trial by jury. The MLB Players Association declined to comment on the suit. ABC News has reached out to MLB for comment.
“MLB robbed the small businesses of Atlanta — many of them minority-owned — of $100 million, we want the game back where it belongs,” Alfredo Ortiz, CEO of the Job Creators Network, said in a statement. “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.”
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