Supreme Court Snubs San Jose’s MLB Antitrust Appeal

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 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 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.

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.”


  1. Good. Now that they’ve wasted more time and money hopefully they will start spending their time working on mending fences with City workers so they’ll stop leaving. I would also love to see them concentrate on cleaning up our freeways and streets of all the garbage and debris. San Jose looks like a dump.

  2. This is a great opportunity for San Jose to use all this land to build low income housing to rent at below market rate for all the underserved and low income residents. As you have read on this site, rent is up over 50% since the Great Recession. Also widely reported is the great citizens of San Jose’s desire to cap rent increases to 2%, something that 70% agree on per EMC Research. Since so many residents are in agreement on the urgency of affordable housing and that something must be done by everyone, San Jose residents must be 100% behind the cost of development and ongoing operation for say, 30,000 units. Nothing a small $4000 Mello-Roos assessment per year per parcel can’t handle.

    A small price to pay for a better day!

    I think this is seminal moment in the history of San Jose where we can come together, doing better by doing the right thing!

    • > This is a great opportunity for San Jose to use all this land to build low income housing to rent at below market rate for all the underserved and low income residents.

      Instant slums!

      San Jose could elbow aside Detroit, Calcutta, and Rio de Janeiro in the race to be slum capital of the planet.

      And if we win, the prize is . . . we get all the desperate, diseased, foragers from . . . Detroit, Calcutta, and Rio!

    • A home for someone to live in that is paid for by others (taxpayers) is not a human right. It is a human want, and perhaps even a human need, but it is definitely not a human right. Mr. Valentine, if you feel otherwise, please tell us how much of your after taxes paycheck you have diverted from supporting your family in order to support the homeless.

      • John,

        Actually this was a poor attempt at the absurd to illustrate the hypocrisy of the recent rent control ordinance and the rhetoric being driven by this blog. And mostly the EMC research that says 70% of SJ citizens support it.

        The only thing worse than tax payers footing the bill is government coercing landlords to subsidize their tenants. And since you ask the question so directly, as a landlord I do divert after tax income to pay for (not homeless) but very low income earners in San Jose. Due to current rent control some of our tenants are paying $1000 below market rent. Current ordinance will allow me to recover and get back up to reasonable levels, but it will take a many years. If the SJWs win this ordinance in the city council, we will never get them back and I will be responsible for them forever.

        So my sarcasm was problem just acting out.


  3. “At least the ordeal won’t cost taxpayers, he [Liccardo] said.”

    It already has and likely will cost more.

    What’s unclear is the opportunity cost: how much could SJ earned had other development proceeded when a the ball park was just gleam in Reed’s & Liccardo’s eyes?

    Then there’s the ‘looser pays legal costs’ aspect. The litigation cost was pro bono. But *all* of the legal costs? A case that ends up with the Supremes typically costs several million to pursue.

    What is the real cost for this folly?

  4. I Remember, when Larry Stone and his side kick Ron Gonezales, were, photographed, in Arizona, with Gonzo holding up a mispelled sign. That was a laugher, but it spelled, doom, for the whole, stinking process.
    Somebody needs to take Sammy out behind the barn, and set his priorities for this floundering Hick town.

    • Liccardo seems weak in strategy and leadership skills. By contrast, Willie Brown was a rascal, but the man knew how to get stuff done. Off-hand can’t think of anything substantive Liccardo initiated on council or as mayor. Some bread and circus events, proponent of pop-up storefronts (because retailers and restaurants haven’t been successful), and some mewing noises. No reason to expect a trip behind the barn will lead to substantive change.

  5. Poor uncle Lew couldn’t afford to just build it all himself? While Chuck Reed was handing Lew prime land for pennies on the dollar. Lew Wolff, or perhaps we should start referring to him as The Donald, was amassing properties at a staggering rate. These are Chucks people. SAM will ride his coatails to the end. Its all about the Benjamins

  6. Since these Catholics, are into the Vatican, their penance should be, after all this time and money spent and capturing prime properties next to McKinery’s arena and downtown. They should be made to attend every San Jose Giant’s game for the next 2 seasons. Wearing San Jose Giants wear.
    I would love to see this. With tickets in the nose bleeds. Haa Haa, Boy would I love to see that.

  7. No one in their right mind actually believed that the Supreme Court would bother with this did they?

  8. Ella Fino
    Perhaps not, but they sure got lots of prime property, for cheap. Did this really have anything to do with baseball?
    Brilliant move, I’d say! Josh, what’s your thoughts on this land grab?
    Take your time, we know you are v e r y busy with unseating Honda.
    The San Francisco Chronicle, had an excellant article on the Silicon Valley Elite, with Trillions in unpaid taxs on off shore profits. All backing Ro Khanna, for Honda’s seat.
    They must read san jose inside.
    Good job Metro.

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