Immigration and the 2011 MLB All-Star Game

Some MLB players and fans opposed to Arizona’s immigration law are protesting against having the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix. Come next year, how much will all of this matter?
by | July 13, 2010

I have a confession. I admit that I’ve fallen asleep at Major League Baseball games – usually because of cheap seats and an uneventful game. Aside from the sometimes-boring, slow game-play, there are some things in the MLB that are pretty dang interesting. Steroids. Players’ dating lives. Immigration?

In Anaheim, Calif., the site of tonight's 2010 All-Star Game, MLB players and fans alike were protesting against holding the 2011 game in Phoenix, Ariz. Many called for league Commissioner Bud Selig to move the All-Star Game out of the state that passed a controversial immigration law. Although most of the league’s players have chosen not to publicly express their views on the law, some have gone as far as announcing plans of boycotting the game if it were to stay in Arizona. (Something to keep in mind: Latinos made up 28 percent of MLB’s player population in 2010.)

The All-Star Game, like many large sports attractions, has the ability to bring in the big bucks to the host city. San Francisco, New York City and St. Louis – the 2007, 2008 and 2009 hosts – all reported over $60 million in economic benefits from the game. New York City led the pack with a reported $148-million economic boost. Anaheim is estimated to net about $85 million from this year’s game.

I imagine that during the next year, this whole Arizona immigration law extravaganza will either explode in a fantastic display of controversial fireworks or simply fizzle out. If the former were to happen, I could imagine more MLB players – followed by seas of fans – boycotting an All-Star Game in Arizona. And if there is a boycott this time next year, how much could Phoenix expect to haul in? Or is it possible that Selig may move the game out of the state to avoid controversy? (Most reports render this unlikely.) This may be something to watch past October.

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