Georgia’s new voting laws have sparked controversy across the country. The laws, which add additional measures to protect election integrity like ID requirements for all voters and more secure ballot drop boxes, have been labeled as means of oppression for the minority population. In response, many large entities in the entertainment and recreation industries, including Major League Baseball (MLB), have publicly opposed the laws and partially or fully removed their commerce from the state.
The MLB was one of the first to be vocal about its opposition to the voting law reform, and the league’s All-Star Game scheduled to be held in Atlanta summer of this year was pulled and relocated to Denver. With an economy still recovering from the pandemic, experts say an estimated $100 million could be at loss for Georgia. According to UWG Economics Professor, Michael Sinkey, the relocation will most likely have little effect on the state’s economic outlook.
“I don’t know that there will be much effect,” said Sinkey. “The All-Star weekend is three days total. From a practical perspective, there just won’t be huge effects on labor market outcomes for any individual or group of people.
“I do think there will be some lost revenue for restaurants and hotels around the area, though I tend to agree with others in my field in that the economic impact will be much smaller than what MLB and the Braves have estimated,” continued Sinkey. “People tend to forget that many local residents leave town or don’t go out and fight the crowds when big events come around.”
It is not to say Atlanta and its neighboring cities will not feel the impact of losing one of America’s favorite pastime events. As stated by Sinkey, the leisure and hospitality industry account for around 429,000 of the state’s estimated 4.5 million jobs. This includes lodging, restaurants and other sectors of tourism that has been heavily affected by the pandemic. The arts, entertainment and recreation industries make up around 47,000 of the state total. So while relatively small, these industries are important to Georgia’s economy and the livelihood of many.
“Any time businesses leave, there’s an impact on local spending in supporting industries,” said Sinkey. “With that being said, I would be surprised if any more sporting events are lost. The MLB All-Star Game was sort of a one-off deal.
“I doubt that major companies will leave Georgia,” continued Sinkey. “It is easy for events and pop-up industries like film to move around since they are not necessarily tied to any particular locale. Businesses that have a defined workforce, suppliers and ties to other businesses are not going anywhere. I’m under the impression that most of the business and events that were planning to leave have already left.”
While it may seem a multitude of them are threatening to pack their things and leave to support their minority consumers, there is something else either keeping them here or convincing them to make the move—money.
“An economy benefits when its workforce is being properly supported and utilized,” said Sinkey. “It seems like this is a primary goal for many activists.
“Businesses will make decisions to maximize their profits,” continued Sinkey. “MLB calculated that losing revenue in Georgia would be better than potentially losing sponsors and viewers due to the controversy of staying. While I think MLB was mindful of how their employees felt, I would be very surprised if the end decision was not pure cost benefit.”