Civil Rights Game leaves Memphis

Although Memphis is home to the National Civil Rights Museum, it's no longer hosting the annual Civil Rights Game. The annual baseball event is moving to Cincinnati.

"And I think it's a great honor and privilege the city of Cincinnati has been chosen," said one Major League Baseball official during a Thursday afternoon news conference in Cincinnati.

The decision leaves many people back in the Bluff City baffled, including Dave Chase, President of Baseball Operations for the Memphis Redbirds.

"The first year we gave $200,000 away to charity," said Chase.

Chase came up with the idea of a major league exhibition game that honored the Civil Rights Movement and recognized the important role of America's past-time in our nation's culture.

"The commissioner of baseball said in 2007 the game will be in Memphis as long as we wanted it in Memphis," said Chase. "I will tell you today, I still want it in Memphis."

Chase admits that the game was never marketed effectively, and ticket sales slumped this year. It appears those factors are the bottom line for Major League Baseball.

"Memphis is a civil rights mecca," said local Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) President Rev. Dwight Montgomery.

He believes it's time for the powers that be to prioritize.

"If the purpose is to honor the legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, then the game should be played here," said Montgomery.

Chase agrees.

"I think our city deserved another shot at it," he said.

For now, Cincinnati will get a chance to fill its own stands in honor of civil rights.

The next Civil Rights Game is set for June 20, 2009 at a Cincinnati park with 40,000 seats.

There's no word yet on whether or not proceeds will continue to benefit charities.

to e-mail Jason Miles.