A's Ballpark Woes Continue: Territorial Rights at Issue in San Jose Lawsuit Against MLB

The City of San Jose filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball (MLB) on June 18, attempting to invalidate the San Francisco Giants’s territorial rights in order to bring the Oakland Athletics across the Bay.

San Jose has claimed that the Giants’s control of San Jose constitutes an unlawful restraint of trade, and that Major League Baseball violated anti-trust laws. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said of the lawsuit:

"I just eventually reached the point where I concluded we were never going to get an answer out of Major League Baseball. For whatever reason, (MLB Commissioner Bud Selig) didn't want to talk to us and didn't want to tell us why he didn't want to talk to us. We needed to get these territorial things out of the way, so that either me, or a future mayor, or a future council would have a shot at a baseball team.

The A’s originally held the rights to the San Jose area, but relinquished them to the Giants when the San Francisco franchise was struggling in the early 1990’s. It may be surprising to today’s baseball fans, but at one time it was the Giants that were failing to attract attendance in cold and windy Candlestick Park.

The Oakland franchise has been in a decade long battle to secure a new stadium in Oakland, but the city’s failures to get the job done have left the franchise looking around for a new home. Their cause was not helped by the embarrassing sewage backup that prompted A’s and Seattle Mariners players to flee their locker rooms.

A plan to build a new stadium for the A’s has been in the works for a decade, under Oakland mayors Jerry Brown, who is now governor of California, and Jean Quan, a former Cal professor. However, these plans have failed to get off the ground.

O.co Coliseum is the 4th oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (tied with Angels Stadium), and it is the last MLB multi-purpose facility. Unlike some of the other, classic old stadiums, O.co is not in the same category with Wrigley Field or Fenway Park and does not have the charm to overcome antiquation. The stadium originally had a beautiful view of the Oakland Hills. However, the 1996 addition of “Mount Davis,” a massive row of seats added to the top of the stadium when the National Football League (NFL) Raiders returned to Oakland, now blocks fans from seeing much outside of the stadium.


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