An updated version of Mark Purdy’s column from earlier today has an interesting quote from San Jose Council Member Sam Liccardo. Liccardo, whose District 3 includes downtown San Jose and borders the ballpark parcels, is a staunchly pro-A’s-to-San Jose.
Meanwhile, officials in San Jose said Wednesday they remain planted firmly in wait-and-see mode. However, Councilman Sam Liccardo, who represents the downtown area, for the first time raised the possibility of governmentally addressing MLB’s unique antitrust exemption, which permits the league to control franchise movement in ways other pro leagues cannot legally do.
Liccardo said that if the antitrust exemption comes to be viewed as an impediment to free-market competition and economic progress, perhaps it should be challenged.
“The Giants should have nothing to fear to see the A’s compete for fans in San Jose,” Liccardo said. “May the best team win. That’s the American way.”
I’ve written in the past that an actual legal challenge to the Giants’ territorial rights wasn’t in the cards because of the cost of making such a move and the City’s constant fiscal difficulties. On Tuesday, the San Jose City Council passed a controversial motion
to put pension reform on the June ballot. Earlier today, I saw what appeared to be public employees picketing along West San Fernando and Almaden Blvd. There’s a new twist to the story, in that the City may run a surplus
for the coming fiscal year. Even though the surplus may be a result of major cutbacks, it’s still easier to make legal moves in that environment than it would for a city running eight-figure deficits on an annual basis. It’s far too soon to tell whether or not to take Liccardo’s threat seriously. The way MLB jealously guards and protects its antitrust exemption, it could easily dig in for a protracted battle. Then again, it may run screaming from a fight and push the Giants to accept a payoff if that threat proves a little too
real. There’s only one way to find out, I suppose…