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Major League Baseball has dragged its feet for four years on an owners vote on the Oakland Athletics’ proposed move to a new ballpark in San Jose. Now the city has taken matters to federal court.
The San Jose lawsuit (attached below) challenges MLB’s exemption from antitrust laws and its right to deny clubs the ability to move without seeking league approval. Specifically, it is going after the territorial rights of the 30 MLB teams.
Under the rules that govern MLB, each of the 30 teams enjoys a monopoly in its market. No other team is permitted to intrude upon the home team’s territory.
The San Jose lawsuit takes aim at the antitrust exemption from a 1922 Supreme Court decision. Some legal experts say the exemption is unlikely to survive the San Jose attack if the lawsuit is not settled and proceeds to a trial.
“There is no reason why antitrust laws should not apply to them, because obviously they’re a business in interstate commerce,” Joe M. Alioto, co-lead counsel for the Oakland Raiders when they beat the NFL in 1982 to relocate to Los Angeles, told USA Today.
“Even if you can’t do it under the antitrust laws, it’s obviously an intentional interference with a prospective business advantage for the Santa Clara (County) area. I think they would have a substantial likelihood of success.”
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