Republicans introduced bills last week to eliminate MLB’s antitrust exemption as well as to allow localities to seek damages from the league over the relocation or cancellation of the All-Star Game.
Rep. Buddy Carter, Georgia Republican, called MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision to move the July 13 Midsummer Classic to Denver in a show of opposition to the hotly contested Georgia election law “a spineless decision based on lies.”
“What this would do is to allow the local communities to recoup some of the costs that have been lost by hardworking Georgians and small businesses that have suffered the consequences of this,” Mr. Carter, who sponsored the Community Protection in Sports Act, said on Fox News.
The measure “would make it unlawful for MLB to cancel or relocate a team competition event that is not a part of the regular season, unless it is because of a pandemic, a natural disaster, inclement weather, or disaster declared by the federal or state government,” said his office in a statement.
“The league has been able to escape scrutiny in part thanks to its perception as a good-faith guardian of America’s national pastime,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican. “But with its reprehensible decision to play politics and punish the State of Georgia — and countless small and minority-owned Georgian businesses — by moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, the MLB has shown its willingness to use its market power, derived from its antitrust exemption, irresponsibly.”
In addition to Mr. Rubio, the Senate antitrust bill was introduced by Republican Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Lee of Utah, while more than 20 House Republicans signed onto the companion legislation.
Democrats control both chambers of Congress, which means the bill has minimal chance of passing.
The Georgia election bill signed last month drew a flood from Democrats who called it a voter-suppression measure and “Jim Crow 2.0,” while Republicans argued that the bill imposed reasonable safeguards such as requiring identification for absentee ballots and reducing the number of drop boxes from pandemic levels while expanding early voting days.
Foes said moving the All-Star Game actually hurt minority communities, given that nearly 30% of Atlanta business are Black-owned, while Denver is 76% White and 9% Black.
“You have nine times as many Black-owned businesses in Atlanta than you have in Denver,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network. “You have I think ten times as many employees employed in these Black-owned businesses in Atlanta versus Denver.”