SBD/7/Law Politics

BASEBALL ANTITRUST DEALT SEVERE BLOW IN FLORIDA

     In a 5-1 ruling by the FL Supreme Court, the judges said
baseball's antitrust exemption "applies only to the reserve
system and not the overall business of the sport."  The ruling
clears the way for FL Attorney General Bob Butterworth to
investigate whether NL owners "conspired" in '92 to keep the
Giants from moving to St. Petersburg.  Butterworth brought suit
in '93 after MLB owners approved the Giants sale to Bob Lurie
(Bill Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/7).  When Butterworth served
MLB officials with subpoenas in an attempt to investigate, the
owners "pointed to their antitrust exemption" -- and a state
circuit judge agreed. The Supreme Court "reversed that ruling"
(Tim Nickens, MIAMI HERALD, 10/7).  The Court decided "that when
it comes to team ownership" and franchise relocation, MLB
officials are "not immune from laws that guard against
monopolies" (Thomas Tobin, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 10/7).
     WHAT NOW?  In effect, MLB must hand over records and submit
to formal questioning from FL officials.  MLB could also appeal
to the U.S. Supreme Court, "a move they are considering.  But
such an appeal would risk an adverse ruling that could erode"
their 72-year-old antitrust exemption.  If MLB does not appeal,
"they limit damage to Florida.  But they still would be forced to
reveal sensitive information about the Giants deal" (ST. PETE
TIMES, 10/7).  Thomas Ostertag, general counsel to the
Commissioner's office, said in a release: "While we are
disappointed by the decision, we note, as the court itself noted,
that the state court opinion is contrary to the great weight of
Federal court authority on the subject.  We will consider whether
to seek review by the United States Supreme Court" (THE DAILY).
     HELPS EXPANSION EFFORT:  The ruling "seemingly enhanced"
Vince Naimoli's chances of landing an expansion team to the Bay
Area.  Naimoli, who led the effort to buy the Giants in '92:
"It's certainly an interesting development."  Naimoli brought
suit against MLB for its actions "in foiling his group's effort"
to buy the Giants.  But his suit is on hold until April 1995
(Bill Chastain, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 10/7).  Naimoli has said he will
drop his suit if an expansion team is awarded,
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