By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Baseball's annual All-Star Game next month will remain in Denver after a federal judge on Thursday rejected a conservative small business group's request that it be returned to Atlanta.
At a hearing in Manhattan federal court, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said Job Creators Network lacked legal standing to challenge Major League Baseball's decision to move the game, or show it faced irreparable harm.
MLB had moved the July 13 game to Denver's Coors Field from Truist Park outside Atlanta in early April, shortly after Georgia adopted a restrictive new voting law.
Caproni said MLB's decision did not single out small businesses, including the plaintiff's estimated 3,600 members in the Atlanta area, for unfair treatment.
"To say that the legal underpinnings of this lawsuit are weak and muddled is an understatement," Caproni said.
"The decision treated large and small; Black and white; Latinx and Asian; Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and atheist; male and female; straight, gay, and transsexual; Democratic and Republican business owners, exactly the same," she said.
Notwithstanding the plaintiff's "intense interest" in where the game was played, it was "not at all clear why it cares more about small businesses in Atlanta than small businesses in Denver," she added.
Georgia's law was signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, following approval by the Republican-controlled legislature.
It added identification requirements for absentee ballots, limited drop boxes, and made it a misdemeanor to give water and food to people lined up to vote.
Howard Kleinhendler, the plaintiff's lawyer, had said MLB's opposition to the law was no reason to punish small businesses and others in Georgia.
"You can't say yes to Colorado, no to Georgia because we don't like your voting," he said.
MLB has said moving the All-Star Game allowed it to demonstrate its values, serving the public interest.
Job Creators Network is also seeking $100 million of compensatory damages plus $1 billion of punitive damages.
Its founders include Bernie Marcus, a retired co-founder of Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)