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Judges skeptical of San Jose’s claims against MLB

Oakland AthleticsIt sounds like San Jose’s day in court did not go very well, as a three-judge federal panel sounded very skeptical of claims that the city would be harmed if the Oakland Athletics were not allowed to move to the Silicon Valley.

San Jose has pursued a questionable legal strategy in attempting to overturn Bud Selig‘s decision to deny the A’s a chance to move to the city, arguing that the city would be irrepairably harmed and that the commissioner had no legal right to deny the move because the infamous antitrust exemption applies only to player contracts and not to franchise moves. On their part, MLB lawyers argued the city has no legal standing to challenge the decision — and the judges seemed pretty comfortable with that argument. From the San Jose Mercury News:

Which is why, in a nutshell, Tuesday went very well for the business of baseball and very lousy for San Jose. The three judges were mostly skeptical of Gregory’s argument that the city can challenge MLB because Wolff has signed an option agreement with the city to purchase the ballpark site near Diridon Train Station.

“Where’s the damage to San Jose?” asked Judge Richard Clifton about that agreement. “Can’t they sell the property to someone else?” Answer: Of course. But nothing enlivens a downtown more than a ballpark. Let’s say that a fish market had been built at Third and King streets in San Francisco instead of the Giants’ AT&T Park. Would the surrounding area now be booming with condos and restaurants? San Jose wants that same opportunity. That’s the point.

Sorry, too hypothetical, chief judge Alex Kozinski seemed to be implying with his own questions. This dispute is between Wolff and MLB, not between San Jose and MLB.

The legal debate right now is a sideshow after the A’s signed a 10-year lease for the Coliseum and Lew Wolff talking with an architect about a site plan. San Jose lawyers say they’ll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be. Huge disclaimer: the tone taken by judges during arguments isn’t always indicative of how they will rule, and more than one attorney has been burned by putting too much emphasis on the tone.

RELATED STORIES: San Jose MLB appeal set for August; Oakland’s Coliseum City runs into hurdles; Oakland offers A’s ten-year Coliseum lease; A’s reject offer; Lashbrook: Hillsboro could host relocating Oakland A’s; MLB to Portland? Not likely, says mayor; Could A’s end up in Candlestick? Here are some unrealistic scenarios; Giants’ Baer: We’d share AT&T Park with Athletics; Appeals court puts San Jose antitrust lawsuit on fast track; Judge: San Jose has no right to the A’s; Selig: We’ll solve Oakland ballpark issue before I leave office; Selig: Oakland Coliseum a pit, but it’s our pit; Legal settlement could pave way for new Oakland ballpark; San Jose suit against MLB a weak one, saye experts; San Jose files suit against MLB in quest for A’s; Selig to San Jose Mayor: Sorry, no time to meet; Progress on new A’s ballpark? Not likely; Athletics propose five-year lease for Coliseum; What drives Lew Wolff?


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