Group files lawsuit against MLB for pulling All-Star Game out of Atlanta

ATLANTA — A conservative small business advocacy group is suing Major League Baseball over its decision to pull the All-Star Game from Truist Park.

In the 21-page suit, the Job Creators Network demands the immediate return of the game to Atlanta or a payment of $100 million to local and state businesses. That amount is what Cobb County’s tourism bureau estimates it lost because of the venue change.

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MLB moved the All-Star Game to Colorado following outrage over Georgia’s new voting law.

“MLB robbed the small businesses of Atlanta – many of them minority-owned – of $100 million, we want the game back where it belongs,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network. “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.”

According to the lawsuit, more than 8,000 hotel reservations were cancelled in metro Atlanta.

Some small business owners say they were banking on the extra cash.

“We’re hurting because of it,” said Caroll Thompson, owner of Thompson Brothers BBQ. “I mean, it’s a major blow. It hurt. We were counting on those people.”

But not every economist agrees that the loss of the game is as disastrous as it sounds.

J.C. Bradbury teaches economics at Kennesaw State University. He said these numbers tend to be inflated.

“The reality is that the economic impact is closer to zero,” Bradbury said.

Bradbury said other studies of All-Star Games by independent economists show small changes in sales tax revenue.

“When you’re talking about some event being $100 million, that would show up in the data, and it just doesn’t show up. It’s too small of an event to have that type of an impact,” Bradbury said.

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The reasoning is that money that locals would spend on an All Star game still gets spent across the county.

“It’s not net new spending. So we really don’t get any richer by hosting the team,” Bradbury said. “But I mean, maybe there’s some pride benefits to that. And that’s perfectly fine. We just need to be honest about that.”

Attorney Bret Williams, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard University and is not tied to the case, commented on the lawsuit.

“Not only [should they] pay the businesses $100 million, but $1 billion, with a B, in punitive damages,” Williams said. “If you’re not going to entertain everybody, why should you have a monopoly?”

The lawsuit argues “MLB’S members receive substantial public funding for their stadiums. MLB also enjoys certain federal immunities from antitrust law.”

“Maybe the phrase to offer Major League Baseball is, ‘Let’s play ball,’” Williams said.

Cobb County Commission Chairwoman Lisa Cupid released a statement saying, in part,

Despite the controversy, I hope MLB leadership recognizes that Cobb County remains an attractive place for business and recreation that also boasts strong diversity in its general population and elected leadership.

—  Cobb County Commission Chairwoman Lisa Cupid

Channel 2 Action News reached out to MLB’s headquarters in New York for comment, but did not hear back.

READ the full legal complaint here.