We have a legal decision to report: the High Desert Mavericks (High A; California League) ownership has won a preliminary injunction against the City of Adelanto‘s attempt to evict the team from Heritage Field this season and beyond.
At issue: a 2012 lease that reduced the team’s rent to $1 while also shifting many fixed costs, including daily maintenance, to the Mavericks. The City Council served eviction papers on team owner Main Street Baseball, arguing that the lease benefits a private business and not the public in violation of the California State Constitution.
A flimsy premise, to be sure, as the lease itself stated that the agreement benefited the public as well. And most observers didn’t see this as a true eviction, but rather as a bargaining chip to squeeze more revenue out of the Mavericks. (The City of Adelanto continues to be in financial trouble — in recent years bankruptcy has been proposed as a way to escape those problems with serious layoffs enacted to make ends meet — and clearly was targeting the Mavericks because of a $1 lease.) The response from Mavericks ownership — after a failed mediation attempt– was to file suit to fight the eviction.
Technically, Supreme Court Judge Brian McCarville issued three judgments, all in favor of the Mavs. First, the aforementioned preliminary injunction prevents the city from evicting the Mavs and clearing the way for the team to stay at Heritage Field. Legally, McCarville held that the city was unlikely to prevail on its claim. Furthermore, the court also ruled that the lease is valid until the results of arbitration (per the lease) and perhaps a trial to evict the team — something that will take months and months.
“The Mavericks are delighted that the Court has found in our favor on all three matters that were litigated today,” said Mavericks owner Dave Heller. “The Court spoke in a very clear voice and told the City of Adelanto in unmistakable terms that its legal argument is flimsier, thinner and more full of holes than the thinnest slice of Swiss Cheese known to man.”
“The City of Adelanto has now lost four times in a row in court,” added General Manager Ben Hemmen. “At some point, Adelanto taxpayers have to wonder when the City Council will stop willfully burning taxpayer dollars pursuing a failed legal strategy.”
Whether such a trial will eventually be initiated by the city remains to be seen: the loser needs to pay the legal bills of the victor in such a trial, and city leaders made decide to cut their losses now. But that’s not a sure thing: Adelanto officials have been displaying some pretty irrational behavior in this legal fight.
“The California League is delighted that the Court ruled in favor of the Mavericks on all three matters,” said California League president Charlie Blaney. “We are looking forward to doing what we have always said we would be doing – playing baseball in Adelanto on Opening Day this Thursday.”
Updated with quotes from team and league officials.
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