Politics

All-Star Game Move to Denver a Political Home Run, Win for Fair Elections

Evan Semón Photography
Yes, the All-Star Game is coming to Denver.

On April 2, Major League Baseball commissioner Robert Manfred announced that the 2021 All-Star Game will no longer be held in Atlanta. That's because on the last day of March, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law an election bill that lawmakers passed in direct response to all the rumors about voter fraud in that state — despite the fact that none of those rumors were backed by a shred of evidence (much less a hanging chad).

The Georgia law is one of the most draconian in the country — opponents argue that it will disenfranchise people of color by adding new restrictions to mail-in ballots and voter registration — and the response has been just as drastic. In addition to MLB's move, other major outfits are pulling big events from the state, particularly Atlanta.

But the loss of the All-Star Game particularly hurts. When Atlanta hosted this event in 2000, it got a $49 million economic boost, according to Baseball Almanac. This year's game was estimated to bring another $100 million to the city.

Now all that cash will be coming to the Mile High City. MLB is set to announce today that Coors Field will be the replacement site for this year's All-Star Game, date to be determined. The ballpark has hosted an All-Star Game just once: in 1995, when the ballpark was just three years old.

Not only is it Denver's turn, but bringing the game to the Mile High City has an ironic bonus.
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Home of Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, just blocks from Coors Field.
Patricia Calhoun
Dominion Voting Systems, the Denver-based company that's been the focus of most of those unfounded election-fraud rumors across the country, particularly Georgia, is headquartered only blocks from Coors Field (not that employees are working in that building these days). Moving the game here is a political home run for free and fair elections, as well as Denver's economy.

Colorado's politicians are certainly welcoming the move, which Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms accepted with resignation in this tweet: "Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected. Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed."

As those same Colorado politicians could tell Bottoms, she's right: After the passage of Amendment 2 in 1992, an anti-gay-rights measure, Colorado was declared the Hate State and boycotted by companies, events and tourists. That turned around, slowly but firmly, and the U.S. Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 1996. Today, Colorado has the first openly gay governor in the country — and Jared Polis is a big fan of baseball, promising to "burn up the phones" to bring the All-Star Game to Denver.

Now the MLB has answered.

“Colorado set the gold standard for making elections fair, secure, and accessible, and the MLB recognized these efforts by moving the 2021 All-Star game to Denver," says Senator John Hickenlooper, who poured plenty of beers for baseball fans who stopped by the Wynkoop Brewing Company after that 1998 All-Star Game. "Our democracy is always strengthened when more people vote. As President Reagan said, ‘The right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties and we will not see its luster diminished.’”

A footnote: Will the 2021 All-Star Game be met with the same excitement as the 1998 edition? Hopes for the Colorado Rockies were certainly higher back then, and the area around Coors Field was really beginning to bustle. One of the biggest souvenirs of the day was Glory, an All-Star Beanie Baby that today is listed on the web for between $2,000 (well-loved) and $20,000 (pristine). In response to all the hype at the time, Westword put its Glory to good use: We blew it up in an early web stunt, captured (barely) in the above video.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun