Dust settles after the big lawsuit filing

I’ve spent much of the last week in transit, as my job requires a lot of travel all over the country. Some of the pictures and posts you’ve seen since the beginning of the season have been a byproduct of little side jaunts taken at the end of business trips or cashed in frequent flyer miles. It’s allowed me to visit a lot of the parks I’ve wanted to see fairly cheaply, though the downside is that it has severely reduced my attendance at A’s home games.

Another byproduct of near-constant travel is that I can’t get into a good writing rhythm. I’m already a rather deliberate writer, and I’m envious of the pros who can toss out 500 words constructed in cogent manner in only 15 minutes. Instead I’ve preferred to shift my writing to ever longer pieces, 1000-1500 words, eliminating many of the peripheral “busy” posts that I used to do.

Yet when the San Jose-vs.-MLB lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, I was left at a loss as to how I was going to cover it. While I get a lot of advice from lawyers and legal experts, I still went through the week uncomfortable about touching the legal issue with any real depth. I wasn’t sure I could do it justice (pun intended). Instead I sat back and read all of the great writing by many lawyers-turned/cum-baseball writers like Jason Wojciechowski, Wendy Thurm, and Craig Calcaterra. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson covered the lawsuit in the broadest manner possible, but the effect of his piece was greater than most because of the wide audience. And we have plenty of lawyers who read and comment on this site. Judging from the last post, they’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. I’m glad that they may have a chance to sink their teeth into something juicy like this. As for me, I’m glad that at long last the A’s plight is getting the attention it deserves (and San Jose to a lesser extent). (While I was in Phoenix on Thursday, the local ESPN affiliate did a wide-ranging interview with Tim Kurkjian, and the A’s/San Jose/Sewergate were one of the main topics!)

However, let’s be clear about what we should expect from this potential circus. While many can’t agree on what the outcome will be, let’s understand what’s really at stake.

1. San Jose isn’t really trying to overturn baseball’s antitrust exemption.

Attorney Joe Cotchett’s initial bluster aside, San Jose would be perfectly fine with territorial rights being modified, their basic structure left intact. That could mean sharing Santa Clara County or the Bay Area at large, or something in between. As long as they have the right to host the A’s, they’d be fine with territorial rights maintaining monopolies (or duopolies as the case may be) here and elsewhere.

2. San Jose didn’t decide to do this on a whim.

Mayor Chuck Reed told Lew Wolff last week that the City was planning to sue baseball. Councilman Sam Liccardo had been talking up the lawsuit threat since spring 2012. From what I hear Cotchett has been involved for nearly as long. What they’ve been doing during that time is strategizing the particulars. What they came up with is arguably weak from the standpoint of trying to overturn AE, but if the goal is shake up baseball, there’s a chance it could work. SewerGate became a most serendipitous event PR-wise – as serendipitous as rising floods of sewage can be.

3. MLB is not concerned… yet.

MLB knows San Jose’s strategy, and they will certainly push hard to get the case thrown out for lack of standing. If they succeed, we go back to the status quo and San Jose is at the mercy of baseball. That doesn’t mean that San Jose is done, it just means the City can’t force the issue. All parties, including the A’s, know this. The important thing for MLB is that San Jose remains an option, however slight, because if the only option is Oakland and a scramble for extremely limited public funds, the option is poor. Of course, the City could decide at that point that it would give up the seemingly quixotic quest for a MLB franchise. Knowing how the current mayor and leading mayoral candidates operate, that’s highly unlikely. The lawsuit is costing them nothing and giving the City a ton of press and awareness. None of it is bad except that it annoys Bud Selig, who is supposedly in his lame duck period anyway.

On the other hand, if the federal judge finds that the City does have standing, then MLB has to decide what it’s willing to risk during the pre-trial discovery phase, when pertinent documents are exchanged between the two sides. As we saw in the Stand for San Jose case, one side made the blunder of providing privileged information, which the opposing side tried to use in its case. S4SJ’s attorneys, who didn’t disclose or return the confidential docs until they were caught, then were dressed down by two separate judges and nearly thrown off the case. The Lodge has demonstrated in the past that they are very fearful of any releases of team or league financial data, forced or leaked. I wouldn’t expect them to fold like cheap tents, but if enough pressure is applied, the pendulum could swing in the City’s direction as the owners simply prefer the quickest exit to the fiasco. The quick exit won’t come cheap or easy because the issue is complex, as Selig has said (but never properly articulated).

MLB’s lawyers will argue that there is no contract, hence no standing. The City’s lawyers will argue that there could’ve been a contract if MLB hadn’t dillydallied. It’s not mentioned in the lawsuit, but they could easily point to…

4. The Earthquakes

Lew Wolff and San Jose have a contract in place to build a stadium. In San Jose. On land sold by the City to Lew Wolff that started with an option. While the stadium has been delayed due to financing and general economic problems, it’s getting done. Without tortious interference – the real issue in this case. The bar for some antitrust complaints may be lower in California than the federal standard, thanks to the Cartwright Act. Whether this passes muster is up for a judge to decide.

5. The A’s are a defendant

In suing MLB, San Jose is suing all 30 member clubs in the process. So even though Lew Wolff wants to move the A’s to San Jose, he isn’t joining the lawsuit. Wolff’s public statement indicates, yet again, that he doesn’t want any part of the legal process, fiddle-dee-dee. And it sort of makes sense given that teams are bound by the MLB Constitution not to sue baseball or each other. Except that…

6. MLB’s Constitution expired?

According to Cotchett, the last Major League Constitution expired at the end of 2012. Baseball hasn’t posted a new one, so it appears that they aren’t operating with one. It sounds crazy to think that baseball could operate without a Constitution for even a brief period, as the document lays out all manner of league and team business, in conjunction with the CBA. The most recent version dates back to 2005, as part of the Expos’ move contraction-and-expansion to DC. It outlines everything from banal matters such as the timing of the owners meetings to how the leagues and divisions are constructed, and pertinent to our ongoing discussion, club operating territories. You’d think that the document would at least be amended to include the Astros’ switch to the American League West. Right?

Then again, if the league is operating without a Constitution, does it mean that there’s a loophole? If there is no binding Constitution then are territories no longer assigned? I doubt it, there’s too much at stake. The New York teams aren’t going to allow Stuart Sternberg that kind of loophole to move the Rays. Prior to the gag order, the Giants pointed to the Constitution every chance they got to back up their T-rights claims. You think they’d let the document lapse? Even if there technically isn’t a Constitution, the clubs are certainly operating within the spirit of the legacy document, which is probably good enough for a judge. The Lodge is the Lodge is the Lodge, after all. Now, if MLB intentionally let the document expire so that no one can point to the constraints of T-rights, then we’ve just devolved into anarchy within the Lodge. Which probably isn’t a bad thing.

In all likelihood, MLB does have a new Constitution and simply needs to produce it. Issue rendered moot.

7. Where does Oakland fit into all of this?

Oakland is not a party to the lawsuit. That’s just as well, since there’s a good chance San Jose will fail and the A’s will have no choice but to deal with the East Bay. The “tail-between-legs” scenario is what they’ve been hoping for all along, not that they’re presenting realistic options should that happen (remember Victory Court?). The real problem for Oakland is simple: no one’s fighting over Oakland. The clubs are fighting over San Jose, and they’d fight over San Francisco if it came to that. No one outside of the Oakland-only holdouts and Larry Baer is talking about Oakland as anything more than a short-term solution. Have you heard any other owners talk about Oakland in terms of a permanent home for the A’s? Of course not, because it isn’t even entering their minds. The only thing helping Oakland at the moment is each owner’s self-interest. In this scenario Oakland is the safety school of cities, the girl from work you go out with because she’s accessible. And that’s what really hurts. Whether the neglect is benign (Coliseum deterioration, deprioritizing the A’s) or more “sinister” (ownership motivations), Oakland’s status as a baseball town is at best tentative. If San Jose comes out of this with the A’s, no other existing teams are going to start looking to Oakland as a viable MLB home. Expansion is out of the question. The best Oakland could hope for is a minor league club of some sort, either AAA (Pacific Coast League) or high-A (California League). If Oakland is truly afforded the opportunity to keep the A’s, they’ll be ransomed like many other cities have been. MLB will bring in the consultants (just like Miami) to say that a franchise there isn’t viable without a publicly-financed stadium. Then what?

Other observations:
Exhibit 3 in the filing is the CSL-written economic impact report commissioned by San Jose in 2009. Normally we roll our eyes at how these things are written, because they’re designed to convince mayors and city councils, not judges. The use of such a document against baseball is more than a little ironic.

During the first press conference, Cotchett trotted out the SVLG letter and list of companies as signed-on supporters of the lawsuit. He quickly backtracked on that. The letter is Exhibit 2.


As I finished this post the plane descended over the Peninsula. I saw the lights on at AT&T Park while Candlestick Park sat silent and lonely. I wanted to get a good look at the Coliseum, but the view across the bay was obscured by a scratched up plane window and the encroaching marine layer. We landed at SJC and the plane was held on the tarmac because a computer malfunction at Southwest Airlines’ headquarters kept all other planes at their respective gates. How appropriate, I thought.

46 thoughts on “Dust settles after the big lawsuit filing

  1. Wait, the Expos were contracted and then they expanded to DC?

  2. @Dan – Effectively. MLB bought ‘Spos in complicated three-way transaction (MLB, Loria, Henry) and resold the team based on an expansion fee valuation.

  3. ML, you write that it’s a “good chance” that SJ fails in trying to get the A’s. Could we get a brief assemblage of reasons for why in here? (I realize the article already points them out, I’d just like to see them in here for easy access).

  4. I’d love to see the A’s get San Jose. Born and raised in Oakland, I just can’t see it viable for them to be a big payroll team. When Wolfe and partners bought the team they effectively signed off on territory issues more than a few times according to reports I’ve read previously. So how do they think that after agreeing to these territories this lawsuit will change that?

  5. As someone who thinks Oakland is a viable home for the A’s, will have to disagree with most of Sec 7, but that’s not unexpected. From that analysis, Oakland and its fans should have given up years ago, but the pro-SJ rhetoric in light of this lawsuit is at a peak so Oakland supporters should expect this kind of discussion for a bit.
    I don’t really know where to start, but a few things jumped out: MLB bringing another team to Oakland if SJ gets the A’s? Right now we’re arguing about 2 teams in the Bay Area market, and now we’re talking 3? I think its clear why that wouldn’t happen, regardless of opinions on Oakland.
    But the most frustrating narrative that continues is the idea that because Lew Wolff doesn’t think Oakland is a viable home for the A’s in his approach, then nobody is allowed to think so. If MLB said tomorrow San Jose is out and its Oakland only (lawsuits aside) and Wolff put the team up for sale, does everyone here really think he’d hear crickets? No, he’d have people lining up to tap into MLB and the lucrative Bay Area. Lets remember even a stadium in Oakland is a short 40mi from San Jose, the 10th biggest city in the US, and last I checked there aren’t sheriffs stopping cars at the county border. And because we “haven’t heard other owners talking about Oakland as a viable home” we should assume its not? Really? I don’t remember seeing other MLB owners sending our press releases supporting San Jose, but that doesn’t mean its not viable.
    Almost done with my soapbox, but I really really love that the “safety school” analogy was used for Oakland. Its perfect. Besides being somewhat insulting in this context, it nails this issue on the head. Right now Lew Wolff is looking like the rich kid who’s applied to Harvard (San Jose) but he hasn’t gotten in. But he has been accepted to UC Berkeley (Oakland), not quite as prestigious, but still a fine school. But instead of moving on and making it work (moving the A’s forward towards a new stadium) he’s had mommy and daddy (Reed and SJ City Council) go back to Harvard and say “we’re suing you to let my boy in.” Perhaps if Wolff had better prepared his application (actually worked with Oakland officials over the last 4 years to actively prove the 0% viability of the city to the rest of MLB) he’d have been accepted. But, lawsuit it is. And if this does end up being the first domino that gets the A’s to SJ, its a shame this is the first spotlight that will be on the franchise and fanbase.

  6. JH510, I can think of three owners (without looking it up on the ‘ol google) who have made public statements in favor of San Jose. They are Reinsdorf, Sternberg and Darth Loria (I absolutely hate Loria as an owner, so yeah it sucks to reference him here. He shouldn’t be an owner).

  7. JH: If Oakland is so viable a home for the A’s, how come the fan support has been so poor for most of 45 years, despite 16 playoff appearances? Don’t the A’s deserve full houses instead of thousands of empty seats?

  8. re: No, he’d have people lining up to tap into MLB and the lucrative Bay Area

    …and the first thing they’d want would be a large public subsidy to build a ballpark in Oakland, which they won’t get. And when they look at the numbers on privately financing a ballpark, their interest levels would drop tremendously.

  9. @Jeffrey: fair enough. I guess if my city was trying to acquire a team, I’d be ok with having Reinsdorf in my corner, but I might steer clear of having my flag waved by the owners of teams in Tampa Bay and Miami.

  10. @pjk: I don’t think anyone on this board, myself included, is interested in going around in circles on the whole “attendance” thing every time there’s a post. If you think a brand new baseball-only stadium in Oakland will sit empty year after year, which you seem to imply again and again, so be it. I disagree. What really blows my mind is why Wolff would even buy the A’s in 2005 and supposedly review stadium sites in Oakland if there was such a horrible 45 year history of no fans. But I’m not a mind reader. And we’ll also agree to disagree on whether anyone besides Wolff & Co is interested in owning an MLB team in the Bay Area and building a stadium.

  11. When AT&T was built there were no “guarantees” it would work out like it has. All I ever read from SJ-partisans is skepticism (re: crowds in a new Oakland ballpark). I won’t get into attendance at the Stick, because like ‘JH510’ wrote, it just goes in a never ending circle of entrenched interpretation from every angle.

    I hate lawsuits, but I love Cespedes bombs!

  12. …if there were folks chomping at the bit to buy the A’s and privately finance a ballpark in Oakland, chances are they’d have already been given clearance to buy the team and construction would either be under way or completed. This would have all made Selig’s nightmare go away. Instead, all we hear about are two anonymous groups supposedly interested in buying the A’s and Dolich’s plan for another joint A’s-Raiders stadium, which would never be considered by MLB or the NFL.

  13. Nice article ML. As someone who has lived in Oakland and followed the A’s all my life this entire situation has just gotten so messy. San Jose should be allowed to compete for A’s wo all this interference from mlb and sf giants. Having said that Im just sick and tired off all the bashing of Oakland and its fans. How many fan bases could endure what we have endured and still not be disillusioned or frustrated. Under the haas family the coliseum was the place to be for years and in the eay 2000’s the A’s had good support despite the constant threat of moving. Below are the attendence figures from espn mlb attendence by year.
    2006-1,976,625 ( great playoff run but first yr lew tarped off third deck )
    2008-2011- horrible attendence
    I am about as die hard as they come and I understand that we must operate differently than other teams. I must support the name on the front of jersey not the one on the back having said that I was devasted to see Giambi go and reading that the only thing that got in the way was the trade clause. Then I saw mukder and huddy dog get traded in one off season and had to see miguel tejada play a whoke season after schott said he would not offer a contract. I have been hearing that the A’s want to move for over a decade and yet here i am. But most fans are not that resilient and they stop following and attending games because of the perception that the Ownership does not care. At the beginning of last yr after billy traded cahill gio and baily and lost willingham I almost threw in the towel by the percieved disregard for the team, to make a long story short there are alot of factors involved in why the A’s have not drawn well but if ownership commited to Oakland, retained a franchise player that all fans can gravitate too and put sone TLC into cokiseum all the while working with oakland to build a new yard I know that we could draw 2.5 million plus year in year out. Look at Joe Lacob that guy has made great changes to Oracle from painting walls to new videoboards to new uniforms on arena staff to new hd moniters all over the building to blue carpets at entrances etc etc. Large banners…. Oracle just felt first class inspite of its age. Its a joke and its sad that such a die hard fanbase gets kicked while its down so much.
    Go A’s!!!! GoDubs!!!! Go Raiders!!!!!!

  14. JH510, might wanna rethink your correlations in that safety school analogy….so, Mayor Reed and SJ city council is going to sue their own city to put a ballclub there?

  15. ….I would’ve introduce a third element into your analogy: a state school board or the Ivy League who’d can represent BS/MLB/SFG blocking the rich kid….or perhaps more apt, a secret society like “Skull & Bones” that we always hear about at these Ivy league schools…yes, that will do perfectly

  16. The media legal experts who believe that San Joses’ case against MLB is lame, such as Craig Calcaterra, Jason Wojciekowski, Forbes magaginze – appear be pro Selig/MLB. None of their opinions say a word about the Tampa Bay owners’ successful lawsuits against the MLB ATE. They all basically mention that the MLB ATE dates back to 1922, and that the Supreme court has upheld it since then. None of them mention that the Supreme Court appears to disagree with MLB’s anti-trust exemption (especially it’s territorial rights exemptions) and that the Supreme Court appears to wish to abolish it.

    They mention that SJ’s standing for the lawsuit may be in question. However, the Tampa owners group sued MLB for conspiricy to prevent the Tampa owners from owning an MLB team. The city of San Jose is an entity, similiar to the Tampa owners group is, and could similiarly make the case that MLB is conspiring against it also.

  17. @GoA’s: Attendance stats can be tricky. Those numbers look nice but they have to be put into context. After all, so what if one team draws 2m fans when everyone else draws 2.5-3m? Let’s look at baseball reference for help and see where the A’s attendance totals place them in comparison to the rest of MLB (in parentheses is a comparison to the AL):

    2000: 24 of 30 (11 of 14)
    2001: 19 of 30 (7 of 14)
    2002: 18 of 30 (8 of 14)
    2003: 21 of 30 (6 of 14)
    2004: 19 of 30 (7 of 14)
    2005: 19 of 30 (8 of 14)
    2006: 26 of 30 (12 of 14)

    I won’t bother with the rest, but these numbers were mostly pre-Woolf but during an era of excellent baseball by the A’s. During this time period the A’s gave us four 1st place and three 2nd place finishes. That’s an amazing level of consistent, high quality play that lasted longer (7 years) than either the great years of the “Mustache gang” of the 70s or the “Bash Brothers Era” of the late 80s and early 90s. They made the postseason 5 of 7 years and even in the two they didn’t they had really good seasons winning 88 and 91 games. They went 664-469 over that time period, but where does that put them against other clubs? The Yankees only won 13 more regular season games during that timespan. The Giants? 40 fewer wins. The Dodgers? 63 fewer wins. The Cubs? 122 fewer wins and an overall losing win percentage. And all these teams were in the top ten for attendance for each of those years (except for Chicago who were in the top ten for only the last 5 years of the range). In fact, by the end, the Yankees were pulling in more fans in one year than the A’s might in two. So from 2000-2006, the A’s had one of the best overall regular season records in the MLB, playing at consistently high levels and always in, or at least in the hunt, for the postseason and yet never made it into the top half of the MLB attendance (and doing it twice in the AL). Frankly, I can see the point of the club saying attendance has been lacking. The average fan may not be comparing the team’s numbers to other clubs, but MLB owners do, that’s a way they measure their success.

  18. What the filing of this lawsuit has done is expose the unfairness and competitive disadvantage that MLB and the Giants have put on the A’s. This has been accomplished by restricting the A’s as to where they can build their new ballpark within their market. Rightly or wrongly, the Giants are not too happy when the Bay Area media has to cover the fact that they are the main culprit to blocking the most practical resolution to getting a badly needed new Bay Area ballpark for the A’s. In MLB’s other two team markets in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, the teams in each of these respective markets coexist on very good terms with one another. Obviously, one can’t say the same about the Giants and A’s within their Bay Area market. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of Giants fans would want for the A’s to have their new ballpark, and would not mind if it is built in Santa Clara County, if the A’s so choose. In the publicity game, the Giants are finally coming off as big losers. It’s about time, and it took the filing and media coverage of this lawsuit to finally show that the Giants are not quite the media darlings as they were in the past.

  19. Also, llpec, These media legal experts, such as Craig Calcaterra, give bad arguments with their claim that San Jose doesn’t have a strong case and may not receive standing in court. Calcaterra, for example, states that San Jose would have a difficult time proving a loss to San Jose’s revenue (due to MLB’s preventing the A’s from the SJ move) based on projected income the A’s SJ ballpark would generate. Also that the profitability of stadiums are for professional sports teams is debatable and would be difficult to prove in court. (That’s a foolish argument. The city of San Jose has previously paid for an independent economic impact analysis study on how much income the A’s ballpark playing in San Jose would generate ($130 mil.) annually).

    That fact, coupled with the fact that the A’s are funding 100% of the ballpark’s cost, demonstrates that San Jose is at small financial risk with an A’s stadium in San Jose, and will only profit from it. The Calcaterra story likely is referring to cities which use public tax dollars to finance pro sports stadiums (in those instances, it is debateable whether publicly funded stadiums are profitable. In San Jose’s (A’s funded ballpark)it is certainly not) The Calcaterra argument is not very convincing.

  20. San Jose is so anonymous…..too bad it had to resort to a lawsuit just to get some attention. Too bad.

  21. Good post, ML.

    Read page 29 of the San Jose complaint and you may see how weak the antitrust case is. San Jose competes in a “market” of major cities vying to nab a mlb franchise? Yeah, that’s an active market. That market is not an actual, economic reality, imo. It’s a phantasm. And market definition is always key in A/T cases. Of all of the standing factors, being an actual competitor in the relevant market is possibly the most important.

    Again, compare the Los Angeles Coliseum authority, which had standing to sue the NFL in A/T over the Raiders desire to move to LA because (1) the authority had a NFL-ready stadium and it competed in THAT market, and (2) because it had a contract with the Raiders to play in THAT stadium. Compare.

  22. re: If Oakland is truly afforded the opportunity to keep the A’s, they’ll be ransomed like many other cities have been. MLB will bring in the consultants (just like Miami) to say that a franchise there isn’t viable without a publicly-financed stadium. Then what?

    …This is the question the Oakland-Only folks don’t want to think about. Then what, after MLB demands public $$ that Oakland can’t provide? If San Jose is ruled out and Oakland can’t pay, the team is gone from the Bay Area, simple as that. And let’s forget about that magic billionaire donating a stadium to Oakland.

  23. How about this hypothetical? MLB whispered in someone’s ear that a suit would be the tipping point necessary to resolve the San Jose impasse.

  24. Pjk: and that’s what the Giants are likely hoping for, a Bay Area without the A’s

  25. yeah makes me laugh to see so many pro oakland fans agreeing with what the midgets want for the a’s which is a “park plan” somewhere in oakland when they know it’s going to be tough as heck to build any sports venues costing hundreds of millons of dollars in the city of oakland. they know really the last hope to keeping the a’s in the bay area both long term and financially well off is if they moved to sj.

    really the pro oakland fans agreeing with the midgets are likely rooting for a strategy that could down the road spell the end of the a’s in the bay area and what will the pro oakland group say then? course there were and maybe there still are a small # of the far fringe of the pro oakland side that would rather see the a’s leave the bay area all together rather than seeing them move just 35-40 miles down south but haven’t heard from them in years.

    really the pro oakland’s group only hope for the a’s to stay in oakland long term and it’s been mentioned many times before is if some magical white knight(s) are willing to spend a billion dollars to not only buy the a’s franchise which at this time doesn’t sound like wolff is all that interested in selling and then spending another half billion dollars in building a park in a downtown/waterfront oakland site that nobody can find that is feasible and even then they may never seen a return of investment financially in such a project. good luck.

  26. @Rayburn’s Son – Yep. That’s why I have to laugh when certain media like Rick Tittle say, “Oh, San Jose’s done screwed themselves now.” That’s nonsense. This is America. A lawsuit is just one more way to negotiate.

  27. I reject the notion that no potential owners would buy the A’s with the intent of keeping them in Oakland. Wasn’t that what the current ownership group originally did? And the owners before that…and before that…

    And haven’t folks bought teams in much smaller metro areas than the east bay and built stadiums? And that’s without having SF and silicon valley nearby as a sweetener.

    Sure, the coli is no longer viable. But as so many teams have shown, A new ballpark can change the equation. Maybe not in Miami, but right across the bay in SF and many other places. If Lew Wolff of a few years ago was willing to build a privately financed stadium in Oakland, given the right location, why is it unfathomable to think that someone else would do that, too?

    With the ever rising value of franchises, buying a club and paying half of a bil for a stadium might not seem that unreasonable. You get a healthy return on investment each year, the stadium asset itself is valuable, and you would get to be part of, as ML says, The Lodge. An investor could do worse than buying even a lesser-valued big league team,and history shows that.

    My point is this: Oakland’s struggle is to find a viable location, not that Oakland itself isn’t viable.

    ML, thanks for a really great post.

    • @Newellbany – There are groups that have surfaced who want to keep the team in Oakland. The problem for them is that moving forward, MLB would want a large public subsidy for any new ballpark to make up for the lack of private dollars. That’s something no one can promise given Oakland/Alameda County’s problems. What MLB doesn’t want is for a group to say that they could keep the A’s in the Coliseum indefinitely after fixing it up. That’s a nonstarter. It doesn’t fit with The Lodge’s M.O. MLB also doesn’t want a group to pile up huge debt trying to build a ballpark in Oakland, because that could hamstring club operations (house poor).

      When Don Knauss spoke out last year about wanting to bring in a local ownership group, he also said that he’d be willing to work with Wolff/Fisher on a ballpark separately. Many will say that Wolff isn’t willing to work with Oakland on such a project, but if Oakland or a civic group could raise $200 million for a ballpark (separate from untold site/infrastructure costs to be borne by the City), you can bet that MLB would be willing to listen and Wolff would be compelled to hear it out. That hasn’t happened.

  28. Newellbany, that’s never happened when the conditions also included no public money AND an existing team nearby. That’s starting the game as the small stack with a fixed deck. I’m not going to say it’s not possible, but if someone can come in and win at that game, more power to them. Just don’t hold your breath.

  29. @ML and PJK

    Did you hear that???
    -It’s the Coliseum City Project heartbeat….New A’s ballpark and Raiders stadium on the horizon…private or public financing to make it happen. What is the hold up on the sJ lawsuit fellas???

  30. Now Selig is avoid SJ’s process servers? (what a bush-league tactic – this guy is the MLB commissioner?) The lawfirm representing SJ attempted to serve Selig a summons about the case for several days, and Selig avoided them. Selig eventually agreed when they threatened to use a process server to serve Selig at his residence (which would be embarrassing for Selig and MLB) It is apparent that both Selig and the giants mgt. both believe that if they ignore the SJ/A’s – the A’s/SJ ballpark issue will go away.

  31. Selig once again proves he has no business even running a lemonade stand, never mind a monopoly like Major League Baseball.

  32. @duffer- where did you see this info? You can run but you can’t hide…

  33. The chron – Scott Ostler

  34. …Selig at his unprofessional best, or worst, if you prefer. Refusing to be served just like he refuses do anything to help the A’s or stand up to the Giants.

  35. pjk, I don’t know. I think he be qualified to run the Bluth’s Lemonade Stand.

  36. Now that San Jose has filed a lawsuit against MLB, can any of you who work in the legal field give those of us who are ignorant of how our legal system works a timeline what to expect next and about when it will happen presuming that the case does go to court?

  37. So I read the bio on Cotchett. Yea, what a hack. Ok,seriously, I would be nervous to have that guy on the opposite side. Impressive credentials.

  38. Unbelievable – perhaps Selig is the senile old coot that some critics suspect he is.

  39. I love the way xoot thinks he knows better than Joe Cotchett.

  40. Should have waited and served him at the All-Star Game.

  41. @LS, that would have been hilarious.
    @Matt, I thought I read MLB has 60 days to respond.

  42. I used to work with a guy who worked for Joe….one of the tricks he learned from Joe was to ascertain if a party opponent was going to be at an event, at work, at a birthday party, (or even on their birthday at their personal residence), or some other public function and then they would plan to have them served for maximum public embarrassment.

  43. Maybe the Giants owners should provide a place for Selig to hide, since he’s doing all this for them.

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