Can Major League Baseball Reverse Arizona's Immigration Law?

By Chris Good

That's what some opponents of Arizona's controversial new immigration law are hoping.


Major League Baseball is set to hold its 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix, where the Diamondbacks play, and activists are calling on MLB to pull the game out of Arizona in protest of the new law. The idea is being espoused by activist bloggers at Daily Kos and Change.org, hosting a petition on its website to move the All-Star Game out of Arizona.

Some are calling on baseball fans to boycott at least one MLB game. A Facebook group is specifically calling on fans to boycott the Arizona Diamondbacks' May 7 home game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The group wants the D-Backs to state a position on the new law.

There's hashtag, #AZMLBB, being used on Twitter for discussion of this movement.

Part of the argument is that that the new law, which lets officers stop suspected illegal immigrants and ask them to provide alien registration documents, will lead to racial profiling and harassment of the Diamondbacks' own Hispanic players.

Pro baseball features a heavy Hispanic quotient of players: 27.7 percent of MLB players who made their teams' 2010 opening-day rosters were born outside the U.S., according to MLB.

If MLB did pull out of Arizona, there would be precedent for such a move: the NFL pulled Super Bowl XXVII (held in 1993) out of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona because the state, controversially, did not recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day--an edict made by Gov. George Meacham in 1987, which voters in the state elected to support in 1990, overturning a bill passed by the state legislature to recognize the holiday.

Arizona voters changed their mind, voting in 1992 to recognize the holiday. In March of 1993, the NFL awarded the Super Bowl XXX to Tempe.

How much money is on the line for Phoeniz, if MLB threatens to pull out? In the midst of the recession, St. Louis was estimated to bring in an extra $60 million in business during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game weekend, according to an analysis done by the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce and Growth Association before St. Louis hosted the game.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/04/can-major-league-baseball-reverse-arizonas-immigration-law/39598/