This story originally appeared on LX.com
ATLANTA - Many Georgia Democrats, along with their Republican counterparts, denounced the decision by Major League Baseball to relocate its All-Star Game to Colorado, saying Georgia businesses and workers would be paying a heftier price than the lawmakers who passed the state’s controversial elections bill.
As just one example, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called relocating the game "a $100 million hit to our economy…because it's not just the game, but it's all the other industries that support it.”
The biggest financial loser after the move may be the Atlanta Braves themselves. The team controls not just the activities at their stadium, Truist Park, but also the entire development surrounding the ballpark, which was expecting millions of dollars of pre- and post-game business during All-Star week.
But much of what the Braves take home in profit was going to Colorado anyway – as the team is owned by Liberty Media Corporation, a company headquartered just outside of Denver.
Though the economic impact claim is suspect, it's featured in a new attack ad from Senate Republicans against freshman Georgia senator Raphael Warnock.
The ad, set to air during Monday night's Home Run Derby and Tuesday night's All-Star Game, blames the "radical left woke crowd" for "forcing the MLB to boycott Georgia."
NBCLX is broadcasting an All-Star political special Monday night from Denver at 7 p.m. ET - find out how you can watch here.
Did Georgia lose $100 million?
Economists call the claims of $100 million in economic impact losses far-fetched, but the relocation of the All-Star Game will certainly be felt by the businesses in the immediate proximity to Truist Park.
It’s just that The Battery – designed to be a one-stop-shop for fans on a game-day, from parking to restaurants to shops to bars – has limited the impact of game-day crowds on businesses just outside the development, according to business owners in Cobb County. Several told NBCLX they never got the ballpark boost they were initially promised.
The Braves have been part of a growing trend in pro sports where teams seek not just new stadiums to increase revenue, but also entire multi-use developments to diversify revenue streams.
And even though baseball’s Midsummer Classic is arguably the league’s marquee special event, many of the tickets for the event go to Braves season ticket-holders, which further limits the potential economic boost from hosting an international showcase.
“[The All-Star Game] is actually quite a small event,” said Kennesaw State University economist J.C. Bradbury. “These are people who are normally spending their money here anyway. And even people who are coming from out of town might be displacing people who (would otherwise) be doing things around the stadium.”
Bradbury recently conducted a study on the economic impact of the Braves’ now four-year-old Cobb County stadium, which found only a small and “not statistically significant” increase in taxable sales since the team moved from Atlanta in 2017. He concluded a third of the new net spending was “crowding out other local economic activity.”
Neither the Braves nor Liberty Media Corporation responded to requests for interviews, but the team issued one public statement in April following the league’s relocation announcement.
“This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation,” the Braves wrote. “The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion...unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision.”
Noah Pransky is NBCLX’s National Political Editor. He covers Washington and state politics for NBCLX, and his investigative work has been honored with national Murrow, Polk, duPont, and Cronkite awards. You can contact him confidentially at email@example.com or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.