Russell Pearce and other SB 1070 supporters are sending off 70,000 petition signatures urging Major League Baseball to ignore “critics and activists” they say are endangering plans to hold the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix.
“Baseball should not punish Arizonans who just want to uphold the law,” Pearce, R-Mesa, said at a news conference Thursday in front of Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While a U.S. representative introduced a resolution earlier this year urging MLB officials to move the game in light of the immigration law, Commissioner Bud Selig has done nothing to suggest he’s considering such a move.
But Arpaio insisted the All-Star Game, scheduled for July 12, is being used against Arizonans who support tough measures against illegal immigration.
“It’s ridiculous,” Arpaio said. “Leave the sports out of it.”
Some MLB figures, including Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, have said they would refuse to participate unless SB 1070 is overturned. The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement in April saying the law could affect hundreds of players.
Groups of protesters have turned out at Diamondbacks road games, demanding that Selig move the All-Star Game out of Phoenix.
“You have a small group of activists making this an issue,” Arpaio said.
Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, called the petition drive nothing more than a publicity stunt. She said there is no indication that the game might be moved.
“I’m not sure what 70,000 signatures does to solve the problems Arizona is facing,” Sinema said. “I wish (these officials) would spend that much time working collaboratively to solve the problems facing our state.”
Sinema has been vocal in opposing boycotts and other efforts to keep musicians or sports teams out of Arizona.
Calls to Major League Baseball headquarters in New York and to the Arizona Diamondbacks weren’t returned by late Thursday afternoon.
In a statement released in April, Ken Kendrick, the Diamondbacks’ managing general partner, said the fallout in light of SB 1070 has “a direct impact on many of our players, employees and fans in Arizona” and called the situation “sad and disappointing for all of us.”