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The left-wing push to move Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in the name of racial equity cost the majority-Black city an estimated $70 million or more, according to experts.
"My guess from the experts I've heard…is $70 million," said Roger Dow, president CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "But here's the thing that people don't count on – it's the exposure that you get from media, of having the game on, and people doing the pre-shows, and all that."
That amounts to not only free televised publicity, he said, but people who traveled to the game from other states might enjoy the city and want to come back in the future.
National League players warm-up during batting practice prior to the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Gabriel Christus)
"I think that's the big loss, much bigger than the $70 million," he said.
And it's not big businesses that will suffer, he added, it's vendors, souvenir shops, bars and restaurants.
"The ones that really need to keep their doors open, they're the ones that got harmed the most," he said – especially after nearly a year of coronavirus pandemic restrictions that undercut their bottom lines. "This would've been such a boost in the arm for them."
Vernon Jones, a Republican gubernatorial candidate from DeKalb County, which includes a sliver of Atlanta as well as some of its suburbs, slammed the MLB for the move.
"Woke corporations won’t tell us Georgians how to run our state and certainly won’t tell us how we should secure our elections," he told Fox News Tuesday night with the game underway. "By moving the All-Star game to Colorado, to a state with even more restrictive voting laws than Georgia, MLB cost our state millions of dollars, hurting the very Black communities they claim to care so much about. They should be ashamed."
Vernon Jones, a former Democratic state Representative from Georgia, speaks during a panel discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)
Progressive activists and some Democrats lobbied for the boycott and relocation of the game after Georgia passed a new election integrity law that critics likened to segregation-era "Jim Crow" laws.
Supporters of the law, including Gov. Brian Kemp, have vehemently denied the characterization and said the law actually allows more voting freedoms than several other states including Colorado, the new site of this year’s Midsummer Classic.
"These reforms have nothing to do with ‘voter suppression' or ‘Jim Crow’," he argued in a
Fox News op-ed. "The Election Integrity Act makes it easy to vote by expanding access to the polls and harder to cheat by ensuring the security of the ballot box."
Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston, a powerful Republican who backed the voting law changes, said the baseball league’s decision "robs Georgians of a special celebration of our national pastime free of politics."
National League’s Freddie Freeman, of the Atlanta Braves, left, and American League’s Aaron Judge, of the New York Yankees, right, escort the wife of the late Hank Aaron, Billye Aaron to the field prior to the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, Jul
"These are the working class people of Atlanta, a city that’s famous in terms of its Black communities and culture, and everything associated with it," The Federalist publisher Ben Domenech told FOX Business’ "Varney & Co." shortly after the MLB announced its decision in April. "And instead you’re going to rip that up and move it to lily White Colorado, which has even more restrictive laws."
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Past games have led to tens and millions in revenue in other cities: $89 million on Los Angeles last year despite the coronavirus pandemic, $65 million in the oft-maligned Cleveland in 2019 – and a whopping $191.5 million for New York City in 2013.
But the push to relocate the All-Star game succeeded – and resulted in another financial blow to the city's entertainment and hospitality industries, as well as revenue the expected surge in tourism could have generated for local businesses.
In other words, the push for racial justice had a hefty financial cost for Atlanta, where the majority of residents are Black, as well as surrounding areas in the Peach State.
National League’s German Marquez, of the Colorado Rockies, throws during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
The whopping number prompted Heritage Action for America, a grassroots conservative group, to demand progressive activist and failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams reimburse the state $100 million from her political action committee, which became a fundraising powerhouse despite her loss to Kemp in 2018.
Just under 51% of Atlanta residents are Black, and Black residents own about 30% of businesses in the city.
The MLB has drawn criticism along the way for its attempts at catering to left-wing causes.
In April, when the league announced it was caving to progressive critics of the democratically passed law in Georgia, it also signed a deal with a Chinese media company backed by the authoritarian Communist Party.
"Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time, days before signing a deal with Tencent, one of China’s largest tech companies.
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Tencent is one of the Chinese firms that censored NBA games in 2019 after former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey publicly voiced support for pro-democracy protesters facing a Beijing-backed crackdown in Hong Kong.
The conflicting deals raise questions about whether the league is making an effort to take a moral stand or to achieve maximum profits.
Atlanta’s home team, the Braves, said in a statement that it was "deeply disappointed" by the loss of the chance to host the All-Star Game.
"Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision," the team said.
The MLB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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On Monday, the league announced it was committing up to $150 million toward the Players Alliance in a bid to "increase Black representation throughout baseball." The funds will come as $10 million up front and the rest in potential matching grants over a 10-year period beginning in 2023.
FOX Business' Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.
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