Major League Baseball chose Denver as the alternate site for this summer’s All-Star Game.
The game had been scheduled to be played in Atlanta, but last week MLB pulled the game out of the city in response to the Georgia legislature passing a new election law widely considered overly restrictive and targeted at urban voters.
MLB’s plans to honor legendary Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who passed in January and played nine of his 23 seasons in Atlanta, remain intact, but will take place with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop rather than Cobb County, Ga.
The high-altitude Coors Field should make for a memorable Home Run Derby, held the day before the 91st All-Star Game on July 13.
In a press release, MLB explained it chose the Rockies to host because they were already vying for a future All-Star Game. That meant MLB already possessed detailed plans for hotels, event space, and security — among logistical factors that usually take several years to come to fruition.
“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,” said commissioner Rob Manfred in the release. “We appreciate their flexibility and enthusiasm to deliver a first-class event for our game and the region. We look forward to celebrating our sport’s best players and entertaining fans around the world.”
Manfred’s decision to take the game out of Atlanta sparked a national controversy that has not let up yet.
Acceptance of the move, which came before the Major League Baseball Players Association had a chance to fully survey its membership, has not been universal among players.
The Players Alliance, a group of past and current Black baseball players, hailed the move as a worthwhile protest against voting legislation that would disproportionately impact Black voters.
Manfred’s decision has been commended by a wide spectrum of Democrats, including President Joe Biden.
But the Atlanta Braves publicly rebuked the decision, a rare show of defiance from one of the 30 franchises. Georgia governor Brian Kemp and a substantial number of Republican politicians around the country railed against the decision as an example of misguided “woke” cancel culture.
Texas governor Greg Abbott on Monday refused to throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, and declined to participate in future MLB events to protest against the league’s entrance into the political arena.
“We are excited to host this year’s All-Star festivities at Coors Field,” said Rockies Chief Operating Officer Greg Feasel. “We are confident that our organization along with the city, state, VISIT DENVER and the Denver Sports Commission are capable of putting on this premier event in a relatively quick time frame because of the preparations that had already been done. Summer in Colorado is something everyone in the country should experience, and we embrace this opportunity to show off our beautiful ballpark and everything our city, state and region have to offer.”
Coors Field has hosted the All-Star Game once before, in 1998.
Next year’s All-Star Game will take place at Dodger Stadium, its first since 1980. It was scheduled to host the 2020 game cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.