A conservative group representing small businesses is taking Major League Baseball to court to force the league to move this summer's All-Star Game from Colorado back to Georgia.
Job Creators Network, an advocacy group founded by Home Depot Inc. co-founder Bernie Marcus, in a lawsuit filed Monday in a New York federal district court is demanding "the immediate return" of the All-Star Game or payment of $100 million in damages to Georgia small businesses.
The league relocated the midsummer classic from the Atlanta area to Denver's Coors Field in early April in response to recent changes to Georgia's voting laws, saying it "fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."
Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of Job Creators Network, said in a statement Monday that MLB "robbed the small businesses of Atlanta — many of them minority-owned — of $100 million, (and) we want the game back where it belongs."
He blasted the decision to pull the game and its economic impact, calling it "a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia’s new voting law which includes Voter-ID," noting that MLB requests that fans furnish IDs at ticket windows across the country.
The lawsuit is also seeking $1 billion in punitive damages.
The group argues that losing the All-Star Game "would be devastating at the worst possible time," as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and state tourism officials have estimated the July 13 game and surrounding events could pump $100 million into the Denver area's economy.
Ortiz also maintains that many states — including Colorado — have "similar or more restrictive election laws" than those adopted this spring in Georgia, a contention disputed by Colorado election officials and voting rights experts.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, called the lawsuit "beyond disappointing" and said the state is firmly in the league's corner, in a statement issued Thursday.
"Major League Baseball should be commended for standing up for the sanctity and security of the right to vote. MLB's choice to hold the 2021 All Star Game at Coors Field is one more reminder that Colorado's voting process is the national leader in safe, open, and secure elections," Weiser said.
"It is beyond disappointing to see a lawsuit filed to force MLB to remove the All-Star Game from Denver. The Attorney General's Office and State of Colorado will stand with Major League Baseball against this meritless action."
The league, the players association and the commissioner of baseball, who is also named in the lawsuit, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATED: This story has been updated to include a statement from Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.