Colorado to host MLB All-Star Game after Georgia voting law prompts pullout

By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) - Colorado Rockies' stadium Coors Field will host July's All-Star Game, Major League Baseball (MLB) said on Tuesday, after the annual event was relocated from Atlanta in protest over Georgia's new voting restrictions.

MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred on Friday ordered the sport to relocate its 2021 All-Star Game after Georgia instituted the new voting rules, which Republican politicians endorsed but critics have said aim to suppress voting among Black people and other racial minorities who tend to vote Democratic.

"Major League Baseball is grateful to the Rockies, the City of Denver and the State of Colorado for their support of this summer’s All-Star Game," Manfred said in a written statement.

"We appreciate their flexibility and enthusiasm to deliver a first-class event for our game and the region."

MLB said the venue was chosen in part because the team was already in the process of bidding for a future All-Star Game and had previously provided "a detailed plan for hotel, event space and security that took months to assemble."

Republican U.S. lawmakers blasted Manfred's announcement last week that the annual All-Star Game would not take place in Georgia. That state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp accused MLB of having "caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies."

Georgia's Republican-majority state legislature passed the voting law after Democrats won both of the state's U.S. Senate seats in a special runoff election in January. The law strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortened early voting periods for runoffs and made it a crime to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.

On Monday, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott declined to throw out the opening pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opener, citing his objection to MLB's decision.

A slew of major U.S. companies, including Georgia-based Coca-Cola Co and Delta Air Lines Inc have come out against Georgia's law.

Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden said he was reassured that businesses "are speaking up about how these new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are." But he noted that there could be some unintended consequences.

"When they in fact move out of Georgia, the people who need the help the most, the people making hourly wages sometimes get hurt the most," Biden said at the White House.

Biden added, "I support whatever judgment they make."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Toby Davis and David Gregorio)