SBD/February 22, 2013/Franchises

San Jose Officials Threaten To Sue MLB Giants If They Try To Impede Move To City

Giants officials have long indicated they would try to block the A's potential move
San Jose city officials are "promising to sue if the San Francisco Giants attempt to block" a potential relocation of the A's from Oakland, according to Lauren Hepler of the SILICON VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL. The Giants have long indicated they could block a move to the area, but San Jose council member Sam Liccardo on Thursday said, "The Giants should be really concerned about whether or not San Jose would be inclined to sue for antitrust violations. I've been talking to plenty of lawyers that are chomping at the bit to take this case on pro-bono." He said that damages in any claim by San Jose might "reach up to $100 million." Hepler noted a group called Stand for San Jose, which has been tied to the Giants and the Warriors, in '11 "sued the city over environmental concerns on the proposed stadium" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/21). San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed on Thursday said that a decision by MLB on whether the A's will be allowed to move to San Jose should "be an easy one, given the economic differences between the two cities." Reed said, "The question is when. Because the economics are so powerful. ... San Jose has one of the highest household incomes in the country, second only to Washington, D.C. We have the Silicon Valley companies. It's a great location." Reed added that he "chats frequently" with A's Owner Lew Wolff and last spoke with him "about two weeks ago." Reed: "He's still optimistic, and as long as Lew is optimistic, I'm optimistic" (NBCBAYAREA.com, 2/21).

SKEPTICISM ABOUNDS: ESPN's Buster Olney noted that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig “behind the scenes ... has quietly been building a consensus on behalf” of the A’s because MLB knows "how much the Giants want to fight this." Olney: "If Bud Selig can build up a strong consensus, say 23-24 owners, then at that point he can go to the Giants and say, ‘Look, this is going to happen, so just make your best deal,’ and I think we’re moving closer and closer to that happening." He added, "Of course, it’s Bud Selig, so he’s going to move slow, he’s going to move deliberately. But it seems like we’re starting to get in range of when the Athletics can actually make that move to San Jose” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN.com, 2/21). However, in San Jose, John Woolfolk writes there is "plenty of reason for skepticism" regarding the potential relocation. Former A's Exec VP Andy Dolich said it is "at least the 10th time" in the past four years someone has said the proposed A's move to San Jose is ready to start happening. He added, "The blue-ribbon committee has had tons of meetings that I know of. But this is not quantum astronomy in trying to figure out what the options are. The core of what they've been asked to do could have been done in a lot less time than four-plus years" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/22). In S.F., Eric Young wrote under the header, "New Report About A's-To-San Jose Clouds Already Murky Situation" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/21).

WHAT'S FAIR AND WHAT'S FOUL? In California, Lowell Cohn writes one way of "looking at fairness" in this situation is that the A's are "victims of the Giants' greed, and that's not fair." No team should "control an entire California county if their ballpark is in another county." The Giants already are "doing quite well in the attendance department," and they should "be good sports and allow the A's to build a baseball palace in San Jose." However, the Giants are "in the business of doing business." That means they want to "maximize profits, and it is not their business to aid and abet a competitor that wants to cut into their fan base." One key condition when the Giants' current ownership group bought the team was "control of Santa Clara County where lots of Giants fans live." If MLB "abrogates that precondition of sale, it would be unfair." Cohn: "Serious lawsuits might result" (Santa Rosa PRESS DEMOCRAT, 2/22).
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