April 29, 2010— -- Arizona's passage of a controversial anti-immigration law could cost the state Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, potentially depriving an already battered economy of millions of dollars.
A New York congressman who called for the league to move the 2011 game from Phoenix is the latest person to push for an economic boycott against the state in protest of the new law. Companies have been pulling conferences out of Arizona resorts while others have suggested consumers shun companies, such as US Airways, that are based in the state and have yet to condemn the the law.
"I think that when people, states, localities make decisions this monumental, they should know the full consequence of that decision," Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., said. "I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its All-Star Game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people."
The 40 percent figure could not be independently confirmed and a spokesman for Major League Baseball said the league had no comment at this time.
The 2009 game generated an estimated $60 million for St. Louis, according to the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association. New York's economy generated an estimated $150 million the year before, according to New York City's Economic Development Corp.
The law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer last week, makes it a misdemeanor to fail to prove lawful U.S. residence when asked to provide such documentation.
When Arizona stopped recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1987, various groups organized boycotts of the state. Pressure eventually fell on the NFL, which in 1991 pulled the 1993 Super Bowl from Phoenix. Voters approved the holiday in 1992 and Tempe, Ariz., was awarded the 1996 Super Bowl.
Serrano called that boycott "monumental" in getting the state to reverse its position.
"The NFL and the players and the union were smart enough and committed enough to know that this was important," he said.