San Jose will appeal a federal court decision denying the city the chance to host a new Oakland Athletics ballpark near the Diridon rail station.
San Jose and the A’s had worked on plans for a privately financed ballpark, but Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig have refused John Fisher and Lew Wolff permission to move the team. In fact, MLB informed A’s ownership in June that permission to move the team had been denied. Meanwhile, in October the 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 ownership. 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. From the San Jose Mercury-News:
Phil Gregory, one of San Jose’s lawyers, said he disagrees with Whyte’s conclusion, finding it “hard to believe Major League Baseball is not subject to the same antitrust rules that apply to other sports.”
The judge also recently dismissed other legal claims made under state law, which focus on allegations MLB has undermined San Jose’s economic interests by thwarting the city’s option agreement with the team to buy land for a downtown ballpark. At Whyte’s direction, San Jose’s lawyers on Thursday refiled those claims in Santa Cruz County Superior Court in a separate lawsuit.
The city filed paperwork with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn the decision. In the meantime, Oakland has put together two alternative ballpark sites and are willing to move ahead with them, leading to some mixed messages from Wolff and crew.
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