Another Step in San Jose’s Quest for Major League Baseball

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Another Step in San Jose’s Quest for Major League Baseball
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Oakland A's fans in 2012. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/7292738@N06.)

The city of San Jose is at the heart of Silicon Valley. It has nearly everything a world-class metropolis could want, except for a professional baseball franchise. The Oakland Athletics' plan to build a new stadium has had more twists and turns than a maze. The blue ribbon committee appointed by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has accomplished little over the past four years. The patience of San Jose, as well as that of the A's, is wearing thin. Numerous different strategies have been considered, but so far, none have been successful in netting San Jose its ultimate goal: the Oakland Athletics.

Obstacles to the Move

The Oakland A's have long wished to move to San Jose, where the burgeoning tech market could likely support a second professional franchise after the NHL's San Jose Sharks. The primary issue is the San Francisco Giants' territorial rights. While searching for a site for a new stadium in the early 1990s, the Oakland Athletics gifted the majority of the Bay's rights to the Giants, including the South Bay.

The Giants have been reluctant to return said territorial rights to the A's, so far preventing them from moving to San Jose. Major League Baseball is still debating whether or not to override the Giants' territorial rights and turn them over to the A's. The City of San Jose has publicly welcomed the A's, but the Giants have threatened litigation against the city of San Jose to prevent a potential A's move.

Attempts at Solutions

There doesn't appear to be an easy solution to the problem that revolves around San Jose, the Giants, and the A's. The Giants legally have rights to San Jose; however, Major League Baseball could give those rights back to the A's. The A's want a stadium somewhere, and Major League Baseball has taken nearly four years analyzing the problem with no definite solution. Baseball did recently release a report that theoretically mapped out the A's potential road to a San Jose relocation, but sources within Major League Baseball are either unable or unwilling to discuss it in any detail, and it would still require the Giants to yield their territorial rights.

San Jose Could Take Action

With much back and forth but little action over the past four years, San Jose City Council member Sam Liccardo has a plan to force the issue. His bold plan is to the flip the script and sue the San Francisco Giants. The gist of a potential lawsuit would claim the Giants' continued opposition to the A's in San Jose is preventing the city from earning significant revenues. In Liccardo's words, "The fiscal benefit of a downtown San Jose ballpark -- and this is in conservative terms, with just the property taxes generated and the money that would go to public schools and to the county -- exceeds $30 million over 30 years. And any antitrust suit that the city might bring could mean treble damages." A potential win by the city of San Jose could find the Giants liable for more than $90 million.

The City of San Jose has done everything possible to facilitate a potential move for the Oakland A's but will need some good will and good luck to get it done. If that doesn't do it, perhaps litigation is the only answer.

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