The U.S. Supreme Court pretty much killed San Jose’s hope of luring the Oakland A’s to the South Bay, rejecting the city’s claim that Major League Baseball leveraged illegal monopoly powers to block the team’s move.
Monday’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a lower court ruling that dismissed the city’s antitrust claim against MLB. Mayor Sam Liccardo admitted the appeal was always a long shot, as the court only hears a couple dozen of the 2,000-plus petitions it receives each year. At least the ordeal won’t cost taxpayers, he said. The case was taken on contingency, he added, which lets taxpayers off the hook.
The San Jose lawsuit was just small time from Day 1.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) October 5, 2015
The lawsuit challenged baseball’s exemption from federal antitrust laws, which limit monopolies to foster competition. It was San Jose’s last chance to force the league to allow the A’s to build a new ballpark in downtown.
MLB has held the exemption since 1922 and used it as a basis for denying the A’s migration to Silicon Valley, territory claimed by the San Francisco Giants. Moving the Oakland team to Santa Clara County would require a negotiated agreement with the Giants or the blessing of three-quarters of MLB team owners. A’s owners have tried for years to move from the crumbling O.co Coliseum.
Last summer, they signed a decade-long lease on the facility, reserving the right to opt out in 2018. A few months later, they renewed an option agreement with San Jose to build a stadium in downtown. San Jose sued MLB in 2013 and lost. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the city’s claim, which spurred San Jose to appeal to the Supreme Court, where it was again shot down.
“The court’s decision, while significant, has no impact on our intense and unwavering focus on solving our ballpark issue and providing A’s fans the first class experience they deserve,” A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said in a statement.
— Nate DonatoWeinstein (@SVBizNate) October 5, 2015
With the case put to rest, Liccardo said, San Jose can renew its focus on developing the “ballpark site”—a section of downtown that includes Diridon Station—to create more jobs and build tax revenue.
“We lost this battle,” Liccardo said, “but we can win the larger endeavor of creating a vibrant urban epicenter for Silicon Valley by taking advantage of this opportunity to combine office with retail and entertainment venues in downtown.”
Lets all remember Supreme Court isn't the one saying A's can't move to San Jose. MLB decided they can't move, SCOTUS just won't intervene. — Lew's Plan B (@LewsPlanB) October 5, 2015