They argue Atlanta area businesses, many of them minority-owned, are losing out on an estimated $100 million in profits.
Representatives for the Job Creators Network are seeking up to $1 billion in punitive damages.
The suit claims the MLB, the MLB Players Association and Commissioner Rob Manfred are punishing Atlanta business by moving the All-Star game out of the city over a new voting law in Georgia.
“It was time. Our small businesses were already decimated because of covid. They were looking forward to this for 21 months,” said Job Creators Network CEO Alfredo Ortiz on Fox Business.
The lawsuit accuses them of violating the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.
The change in venue for the All-Star game led to 8,000 canceled hotel rooms in Atlanta along with lost ticket and concessions sales for 41,000 fans.
Cobb County’s chief financial official estimates that’s roughly a $1 million in losses.
“I’m happy that the MLB did it. I hate it for the smaller businesses, but I also hate it for the small businesses that are unable to vote, hate it for the minority populations unable to vote. And I think that’s more important than what they’re talking about the moment,” said Atlanta based attorney Keith Lamar Jr.
He says the lawsuit lacks merit and is frivolous. Lamar Jr. also says a judge likely won’t take up the case until well after the All-Star game.
“We’re not just talking about black people rights or brown people, right? These are human rights,” added Lamar Jr.
The initial announcement of the relocation drew mixed reaction from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“I think the best thing that MLB can do now is to immediately retract their decision,” said New York Republican Representative Claudia Tenney.
“Well I was actually glad to see Major League Baseball stand up and say that we’re not going to be in a place where leaders are deliberately moving backwards,” said Connecticut Democratic Congressman Jim Himes.
Even President Joe Biden weighed in on the issue. He criticized Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp for signing the voting bill into law, calling it “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and “Un-American.”
Kemp called the MLB’s decision a poor choice.
Manfred said the league made the decision to, “Demonstrate our values as a sport.” He added that “the league opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
The Georgia law requires voters to have a photo ID to vote by mail, shortens early voting periods, and bans non-election workers from giving people food and water while they wait in line.
In Colorado, voters only have to present a valid form of identification to vote in person. They’re also not required to show proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.
In the lawsuit, the JCN pointed out that MLB fans are asked to show their IDs at will-call ticket windows in many stadiums.
Attorneys for the JCN filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York where the MLB is headquartered. They’re requesting a trial by jury.