Major League Baseball (MLB) has confirmed the Colorado Rockies as the new host of its 2021 All-Star Game, citing the club’s readiness to take on the event at short notice.

MLB last week stripped Atlanta’s Truist Park of hosting rights to the All-Star Game amid objections to new voting restrictions in the state of Georgia. Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, had been due to host the game on July 13 but MLB decided to relocate the event following discussions with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association and The Players Alliance, among others.

The Rockies and its Coors Field home had been reported as the likely replacement, with the news confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) by MLB. Remaining on July 13, baseball’s 91st Midsummer Classic will be the second ever in Denver, joining the 1998 event at Coors Field.        

MLB said it chose the Rockies because they were already in the bidding process to host a future All-Star Game. MLB said the Rockies had supplied a detailed plan for hotel, event space and security that took months to assemble, while League staff had already made several site visits to Denver.  In addition, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock have both committed to provide the necessary facilities and services needed to support this year’s festivities.

MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, said: “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.  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.”

Rockies chief operating officer, Greg Feasel, added: “We are confident that our organisation 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.”

The changes to voting laws in Georgia have attracted widespread criticism. The new law, signed by Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp on March 25, includes restrictions on mail voting and grants the state greater legislative control over the running of elections.

The law has been criticised by civil rights groups, who have claimed that the restrictions will particularly affect people of colour. The chief executives of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have also hit out at the law.

By contrast, Democratic state officials in Colorado have hailed their state’s mail-in voting system, which was introduced in 2013, for its accessibility and ease of use. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold praised MLB’s decision to award All-Star to the Rockies, crediting it to the state’s “national gold standard for elections.”

The Rockies opened up their 2021 season against the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, with permission for 42.6% capacity at Coors Field, or 21,363 seats. Polis expressed confidence that the stadium could be up to full capacity by the time of the All-Star Game, pointing to President Joe Biden’s plan to allow all Americans to have COVID-19 vaccinations by May.

“We’re talking about a mid-July game so there are no real concerns on that front,” Polis said at a news conference. “I think everybody expects a fully packed, sell-out stadium in July. That’s going to be good for MLB, good for Colorado and an exciting experience for fans.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers remain the hosts of the 2022 All-Star Game, as previously announced. Next year’s event will be the first Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium since 1980.

Image: U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Darryl L. Bolden Jr./Edited for size