Though owners pledge not to sue Major League Baseball when they purchase a team, that’s not stopping plenty of lawyers from closely observing the battle between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s over San Jose.
The spectre of a lawsuit from either party has surely been a concern to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig as he maneuvers MLB through some pretty nasty hurdles. On the one hand, the Giants generate a quarter of their revenue from Silicon Valley businesses and fans, so you can see why ownership would be hesitant about allowing an A’s move there. On the other hand, A’s owner Lew Wolff knows San Jose well and rightly sees it as the answer to his team’s financial needs. But Wolff put Selig in a bad situation by announcing his intent to build a San Jose ballpark before seeking a consensus on the issue from MLB owners, and he’s paid the price — as Selig and his committee have patiently waited for the storm to pass.
But it hasn’t. So now we’re in a situation that could get even uglier, with lawyers potentially ready to pounce no matter what Selig does, according to Steve Henson at Yahoo News. It is a problem that simply won’t go away. Selig has been pretty consistent about his guiding principles regarding franchise movement — if an existing city can show it’s serious about a ballpark solution, the team won’t be moved.
In any case, we don’t see 75 percent of MLB owners agreeing to a move of the A’s — if the numbers were there, Selig would have probably already called a vote. Do the math: if the commissioner is allowed to disregard territorial rights here, what’s to stop him from allowing the Tampa Bay Rays to move to New Jersey or Connecticut? Or stop the Cleveland Indians from moving to Boston or Philadelphia? Or stop the next A’s owner from moving the team to downtown Los Angeles? Every big-market team relies on MLB territorial rules to maintain local monopolies. The current territorial setup has worked well for Major League Baseball, and you can bet that no one in the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox or Phillies front offices want to see it go.
RELATED STORIES: Waterfront site emerging as new A’s home; Developer: I can build new A’s ballpark with private financing; San Jose: A’s ballpark land safe — for now; Wolff meets with Knauss, has clear message: A’s not for sale; Giants: Nothing would tempt us to give up Silicon Valley territory; Selig: A’s can leave Oakland — just not for San Jose; Cal to San Jose: Slow down on new ballpark; A’s expected to push for ballpark decision at owner’s meetings; Today’s A’s/Giants update: nothing new; Wolff: A’s aren’t for sale; Suitors emerge for Oakland Athletics; Turf wars rage again in Bay Area: A’s say San Jose move doesn’t infringe on Giants; Oakland: One last gasp at keeping A’s; MLB: No, there’s been no decision on Oakland A’s to San Jose; Oakland bows out of Victory Court site for new A’s ballpark; Court ruling clarifies San Jose, Escondido ballpark statuses; San Jose to sell A’s ballpark land at huge loss; Oakland player plan depends on new ballpark; Obstacles to new ballparks in California: not as bleak as expected; San Jose rushing to acquire land for Athletics ballpark; Could Oakland bar A’s from moving?; Cal budget issues could alter San Jose, Oakland plans for A’s ballpark; Beware folks peddling simple solutions to complex problems; Oakland moves forward on environmental study of A’s ballpark site; Oakland may be in better financial shape to host new A’s ballpark; Oakland pitches new waterfront site for new A’s ballpark; As Giants win World Series, Athletics ballpark status in limbo
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at email@example.com.
Are you a subscriber to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter? You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.