San Jose’s Lawsuit against Major League Baseball Takes a Hit

A federal judge on Friday dismissed most of San Jose’s lawsuit against Major League Baseball, which accused the league of flouting antitrust laws by delaying a proposed move of the Oakland A’s to the South Bay.

U.S District Judge Ronald M. Whyte said San Jose could go ahead with claims that MLB got in the way of an option agreement between the city and the A’s over property for a new stadium. That means the city could still pursue billions of dollars in damages, but has to back down on a court order to allow the A’s to move to San Jose.

Mayor Chuck Reed focused on the upside.

“I am pleased that the judge has allowed our case to move forward,” he said in a statement Friday afternoon. “Major League Baseball’s unfair and anti-competitive actions are costing San Jose residents millions of dollars in annual tax revenues that could go toward paying for more police officers, firefighters, libraries, road repairs and other critical services.”

San Jose filed the lawsuit after waiting for more than four years for a decision from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

A’s owner Lew Wolff has wanted for several years to move his club from Oakland, where his team suffers weak ticket sales and shares facilities with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. But the San Francisco Giants have blocked a South Bay relocation, maintaining they have territorial rights granted two decades ago.

Whyte writes in Friday’s ruling that although baseball’s antitrust exemption is “unrealistic, inconsistent or illogical,” it still applies to the A’s proposed relocation, which is why he had to dismiss much of the lawsuit. Only legislation, not litigation, can amend the antitrust exemption, which gives the league authority to pick where a team plays since location is part of the organization’s business model.

“The exemption is an ‘aberration’ that makes little sense given the heavily interstate nature of the ‘business of baseball,’” Whyte writes in the 26-page order. “Despite this recognition, the court is still bound by the Supreme Court’s holdings.”

Still, Reed says, at least there’s some progress on the case, which the City Council will review in its next closed session.

“The court’s decision brings us one step closer to paving the way for San Jose to host a major league ball club,” Reed said.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Now, how about all the land that the City Council agreed to sell to Lew Wolfe at under market value?  Are we going to get that money back?  What a sham.

    • No, Wolfe will exercise the rights he paid $50k for to purchase the land at well below “current” market rate when (once and for all) it is clear there will be no need for a stadium.

  2. OK we have lawsuits with Police, Fire, City workers, Baseball,  Who we going to sue next Mayor.  DId I read he wants the whole state involved in these lawsuits. 

    As Reed looses the pension mess, and looses more cops, and has more homicides and crime, gets caught in lies about 650 million…  we know what he going to say

    Lets focus on the upside. 

    This did not bring us one step closer until you take 3 steps back Mayor Reed.

  3. Chuck Reed is either delusional or lying (again). “One step closer”?? WTH? MLB just stuck this right up San Jose’ s keester and there will never be a Major League Baseball team in this “wannabe city”. Either Reed’s ego is so inflated that he once again can’t admit when he’s screwed up, or he continues to believe his own BS. Either way, San Jose continues to fail under Chuck’s watch.

    • He’s not delusional, he’s arrogant.  This is a typical example of his “my way or the highway” dealings in which he sues until he gets his way.

  4. When the City loses Measure B, no doubt Mayor Reed will claim that as a victory also, and his minions Liccardo, Khamis, Constant, Luigi, and Herrera, will be groveling at his feet for his attention.

  5. Based on observations and his public statements, it becomes more and more clear that Mayor Reed must be considered to likely be a clinical narcissist. His speech and actions support this: his ‘my way or the highway’ approach, his fast and loose relationship with the truth ($650 million pension shortfall lie), his belief that Measure B stands a snowball’s chance in hell based on the CA consititution and preceding case law, and now, this.

    As far as he is concerned, he CANNOT be wrong, his solutions to the problems San Jose faces (both real and perceived) cannot be wrong, and the nature of the problems San Jose faces are only those problems which he has identified, to the exclusion of all the other identified problems (low income housing, loss of commercial tax base, massive debt obligations imposed by the new City Hall, the Convention Center rennovation, the Airport expansion, and massive RDA debt to the tune of $2.6 billion.

    The ACTUAL pension shortfall is is a drop in the bucket compared to the real financial problems this city faces. And, the worst of it is this: Mayor Reed has been a major player EVERY step of the way in creating this mess.

  6. this piece is about San Jose getting a ball park for the A’s and a judges ruling.  End of 1st inning.  All the comments thus far are attacks on Reed.

    Sum up. Years ago the Haas family “gave” So Bay terriatorial rights to Giants so they wouldn’t have to move to Tampa. Giants needed a new ballpark.  Now the A’s need a new ballpark.

    With private $ and a little help from San Fran – Giants built a nifty ballpark and lifted the China Basin community around them.

    Why shouldn’t the A’s be allowed to do the same in San Jose?  Should we truly remain a 2nd class city forever?

    The Giants could lighten up and be good sports allowing the A’s the same chance they were given. A slight financial break on a bit of land in exchange for a dynamic ballpark would be a drop in the bucket compared to the economic uptick to downtown SJ.

    Chuck Reed may not be a perfect man, but he is not self serving and only looking out for the long term well being of a potential first rate city w/ 2nd rate complainers.

    If you want to gripe – go bitch at the unsportsmanlike Giants.  Tell them to Man Up and play fair.

    • Hughbiquitous,  the attack on Reed are warranted why sue MLB.  Are they not who we are trying too convince that South Bay needs a team. 

      Reed is a Lawyer, and likes to spend tax dollars for lawsuits. 

      Tell Reed to negotiate.  He is incapable of doing this.  That’s why we will never get the A’s till he leaves.  That is why a hundreds of cops have quit.  He cannot negotiate.

  7. This P.O.S. Mayor , his arrogance has no limits. it is mindblowing that he actually believes he is entitled to what he considers to be right , all the while , Lying ,cheating &stealing; from residents and City employees. It is beyond Mr.Burns ability to see things from any other than his own extremely distorted point of view.  For all his complaining of double dippers, watch and see where he turns up being employed with after hes done destroying San Jose. I hope that when all is said and done , that someone somewhere tally’s the total costs of all of the frivolous lawsuits that he has Gotten the city into. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that when “Greed” is termed out, many things will come to light that are at the least very questionable and at the most , extremely illegal.

  8. Wow, with so many “Union Members” on the message board must’ve been a light “workload” today.

    To all you H8ers, SJ will get a new ballpark one way or another.

    • Soccer stadium is all you will ever see.  I am betting Chuck or new mayor will run San Jose Giants out of town.

      Light work load “not”, enjoying retirement and pension.

  9. The reason San Jose will never get the A’s, is, The movers and shakers rallying around all the deals being done on properties near and around the Diridon Station is these guys have never supported their own home team The San Jose Giants and previously the San Jose Bees. Follow the money, Folks! There are no Sharks in Baseball!
      The Village Black Smith

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