San Jose Has Had Enough, Sues MLB

by Jason Epstein

San Jose filed suit against Major League Baseball for refusing to act for four years on the city’s efforts to move the A’s from Oakland to the South Bay. The legal action takes aim both at the Giants’ claim to the area and MLB’s monopoly of the professional sport:

“For years, MLB has unlawfully conspired to control the location and relocation of major league men’s professional baseball clubs under the guise of an ‘antitrust exemption’ applied to the business of baseball,” said the 44-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose. The suit, which accuses MLB of a “blatant conspiracy,” is being handled at no cost to the city by the Burlingame law firm of Joseph W. Cotchett, which has handled some of the largest antitrust cases in the nation and represented the NFL in similar litigation.

MLB had no comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

A’s owner Lew Wolff said he had “no details” about the lawsuit. He said that “nothing’s changed” as far as his team’s quest for a San Jose ballpark but added: “I’m not in favor of legal action or legal threats to solve business issues.”

The Giants’ territorial rights to the San Jose area originated in the early 1990s. The Giants were considering Santa Clara County for a new stadium to replace frigid, windy Candlestick Park, where they had played since 1960, two years after moving from New York to San Francisco.

Previous A’s owners had allowed the territorial reshuffling to accommodate the Giants’ move south, farther away from Oakland. After two failed attempts to secure voter approval for taxes to build a new South Bay ballpark, the Giants privately financed AT&T Park in San Francisco, the team’s home since 2000.

But the territorial division remained, giving the counties of Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey to the Giants, Alameda and Contra Costa to the A’s. The two teams disputed the intent of that split in dueling news releases a year ago. The A’s argued it was only “subject to relocating” the Giants to Santa Clara County, which the teams had shared when the A’s came from Kansas City in 1968. The Giants countered that MLB owners including the A’s repeatedly reaffirmed the territorial split, which the Giants relied upon in financing their ballpark.

More here.

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