An interesting legal theory is making its way through the Bay Area: that a clause in the Athletics’ lease for Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum could be used as a tool to keep the team in Oakland — at least long enough for a sale of the team or a San Jose deal to cool.
Here’s the clause, according to the Bay Citizen:
“Licensee [A’s] shall not permit or cause to occur any event that may result in the transfer of its Franchise or any of its Home Games to any other city or location or do or fail to do anything which will cause its right to play major league professional baseball in the Stadium to be lost, impaired or transferred to any other city or location.”
A standard clause these days in ballpark leases, to be sure. The Bay Citizen proposed a scenario where the clause could be used as the basis of a lawsuit against the A’s to prevent a move to San Jose. Indeed, the speculation is that the city has already prepped the papers and could be ready to file them at any time. Smart move: Athletics owner Lew Wolff clearly has been making concrete actions at moving the team, whether it was negotiating with Fremont or offering to finance land acqusitions by San Jose for future use as a ballpark site. Still, we’re a long ways from any move to San Jose, though, and if anything events in recent days have decreased any chance of a move. And, of course, Wolff would have some solid claims of his own: that the Coliseum is not an adequate MLB facility and that he and MLB have given Oakland every chance to rectify the situation.
The clause is only good while a lease is in effect — and the team’s lease at the Coliseum ends at the end of the year. There are options past that, but we’re guessing Wolff‘s lawyers would be smart enough to strike this clause should options be in place and the team looking at a move.
Still, the possibility of legal action adds another layer of intrigue to the mix. And like everything connected with a potential move of the Oakland Athletics, what was once a relatively simple situation has descended into something considerably more complex.
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