A lawsuit attempting to force Major League Baseball to allow the move of the Oakland Athletics to a new downtown San Jose ballpark was mostly tossed by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte, who ruled the sport’s antitrust exemption was still law of the land.
Viewed by many observers to be a very weak argument, San Jose lawyers said MLB illegally colluded to keep the Athletics from building a new ballpark, despite the wishes of A’s owner Lew Wolff. However, Whyte wrote that the argument was indeed weak, ruling that baseball’s antitrust exemption allowed for the existence of territories — in this case, the San Francisco Giants’ claim on Santa Clara County and much of Silicon Valley.
One part of the original San Jose lawsuit will move forward: that MLB owners unlawfully colluded to keep the A’s from moving. From Reuters:
Tired of waiting for a vote, San Jose sued MLB and league Commissioner Bud Selig in June, charging their “illegal and collusive actions thwarted Plaintiffs’ diligent efforts to procure a major league baseball team for Silicon Valley.”
In his ruling on Friday, Whyte wrote that baseball’s longstanding antitrust exemption applies to issues like the proposed Oakland A’s move, so the city’s antitrust claims must be dismissed.
“The exemption is an ‘aberration’ that makes little sense given the heavily interstate nature of the ‘business of baseball,” Whyte wrote. “Despite this recognition, the court is still bound by the Supreme Court’s holdings.”
The city could appeal; no decision has been reached.
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