When it comes to the Oakland Athletics, the Oakland County Coliseum is always a hot topic of conversation. Built back in the 1960s, the Coliseum is the last stadium in the U.S. to still host both an MLB and an NFL team. A’s fans have always complained about the old facilities and how this stadium is unfit for baseball. Additionally, when it is being used as a ballpark, it has the most foul territory in all of the MLB. With the recent sewage leak that caused the A’s and the Mariners to share a the Raider’s clubhouse, fans, critics, and non-A’s fans alike are starting to agree that the Athletics are in need of a new, baseball-only park.
With the Coliseum providing unsuitable facilities for baseball, there has been much talk about the Oakland Athletics moving and building their own ballpark somewhere else in the Bay Area. A little over four years ago, the A’s asked the MLB for permission to move to San Jose. They had a vision of building a magnificent ballpark that was close to the Caltrain station, so their fans could still easily come the South Bay to watch their favorite team play. Since the time this proposal took place in March of 2009, the A’s have played the waiting game. But some people grew impatient.
On Tuesday, the City of San Jose filed a lawsuit against the MLB for violating U.S. Antitrust laws and not allowing the A’s to make the move to San Jose. It is believed that this lawsuit was pushed forward by the sewer leak that left A’s without a clubhouse and the stadium with an awful stench. However, the MLB stated that the San Francisco Giants have exclusive territorial rights over San Jose, which they refuse to give up.
As it turns out, the MLB promotes a monopoly market. This allows teams to have control of a particular territory, thus keeping the competition away. So how did the San Francisco Giants come to have control over San Jose? Back in 1990, the SF Giants were looking to move from the cold and windy Candlestick Park down to San Jose. Walter Haas, the owner of the A’s at the time, gave the Giants his blessing and agreed to let them have territorial rights over Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose. However, the voters of San Jose did not pass ballot measures in 1990 and 1992 that would have allowed a Giants stadium to be built since it would have to be built using taxpayer-funded money. The lawsuit today states that San Francisco is unfairly holding onto these territorial rights and that they should have relinquished these rights when they built the new AT&T park in San Francisco in 2000.
The lawsuit also states that the monopoly type market and territorial rights that the MLB promotes is directly violating the U.S. Antitrust laws. These laws call for the promotion of fair competition between businesses for the benefit of the customers and consumers. However, the MLB and other professional sports teams have been exempt from this law for quite some time. For baseball, it started back in 1922 with Federal Baseball Club v. National League where the U.S. Supreme court decided that the Sherman Antitrust Laws did not apply to the MLB. Now, if this lawsuit passes, it could change the way the MLB and its teams operate.
As of now, there needs to be a three-fourths vote from the owners to allow a baseball team to move to another city or location. However, if the City of San Jose wins this case and proves that the MLB is violating U.S. Antitrust laws, it will allow owners to move their teams wherever they like, whenever they like. In order to stop this change from happening, the MLB will need to settle this issue out of court. The City of San Jose hopes that this lawsuit with help push the MLB to come to a quicker decision about the Oakland Athletic’s much needed move.
With the O.co Coliseum looking more like a football staduim with each passing renovation, it is clear that the Oakland Athletics need a new baseball stadium of their own. When that day will come, nobody knows. For now, the waiting game continues as this lawsuit unfolds.