A conservative group representing small businesses that says MLB's decision to move its All-Star game out of Atlanta is proof Commissioner Rob Manfred has "no balls" is now ready to throw another brush-back pitch.
With more than 30 partners ranging from the Nevada Chamber of Commerce to the National Restaurant Association, the Job Creators Network says baseball's decision to boycott Atlanta over its objection to Georgia’s voting law is wrong and it is taking MLB to court.
FOX Business has learned that the right-leaning trade group founded by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus — plans to file a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Tuesday morning alleging that MLB's decision has injured Atlanta’s small business community. Also to be named in the lawsuit, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter is the Major League Baseball Players Association – the union which represents some 1,200 players – and which the Job Creators Network contends played a role in the decision to move the game out of Atlanta to Denver.
Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, has mounted a high profile campaign against the baseball’s decision with protests in front of MLB headquarters in Manhattan and billboards in Times Square that mocked MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred as having "All Strikes and No Balls" for caving into left-wing pressure groups that have denounced the state’s new voter law as being overly restrictive to minority and poor voters.
Conservatives and Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia have argued that the law simply requires voters to produce proper ID and ensures the integrity of mail-in voting.
"MLB robbed the small businesses of Atlanta – many of them minority-owned – of $100 million. We want the game back where it belongs," Ortiz told FOX Business, "This was a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia’s new voting law which includes voter ID."
Ortiz, who is also a board member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, noted that when it comes to identification, "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."
Spokesmen for the MLB and the players association had no comment.
"This action is not a surprise given the real damage that's been done." says Ken Blackwell, former Cincinnati mayor as well as Ohio secretary of state, but maybe most notable: he is a minority owner of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.
The lawsuit will demand that MLB immediately moves the game back to Atlanta or pay damages to small businesses impacted by its decision.
The All-Star game’s original venue at Truist Park in suburban Cobb County, Georgia was expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in revenues for area small businesses including many owned by minorities. MLB was also planning a celebration of the life and career of Hank Aaron, the Atlanta Braves great who shattered Babe Ruth’s home run record and passed away in January.
Baseball's efforts came under scrutiny by left-wing activists and President Biden who called the Georgia voting law racist and said the All-Star game should be played elsewhere. People close to Manfred tell FOX Business that MLB had no choice but to relocate because these activists – including former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams – were pressing the league to turn the game into a political event. A spokesman for Abrams confirmed to FOX Business that Abrams spoke to a senior baseball official about having the MLB take a position on the law but she wanted to keep the game in Georgia.
Manfred decided instead to issue a short statement saying that he "decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game" to Coors Field in Denver.
The move however didn’t end the controversy. Some voting rights experts said Colorado’s voting laws are no less restrictive than Georgia’s.
Plus the small business impact was daunting. The Cobb County Travel and Tourism Bureau estimates $100 million in lost business to the Atlanta area.