San Jose files reply brief in Ninth Circuit

The City of San Jose fired a salvo in the appellate court case against Major League Baseball. In the reply brief submitted yesterday, the City asserts that a decision by the Ninth Circuit court should be made before the land option agreement expires in November.

A decision on the antitrust issues concerning the Athletics’ move should be made before November 2014 or the Athletics may choose another site for their new stadium. Reed Decl., ¶22. If that occurs, San José will suffer irreparable harm because an eventual judgment in the City’s favor will be too late to allow the Athletics to successfully relocate to San José.

While damages for the economic harm caused by MLB would still offer some remedy to the City of San José, such a remedy is inadequate. Ultimately, MLB’s illegal conduct would have been successful in preventing free competition in the baseball market. Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 133; Gregory Decl., ¶2, Exhibit A. The only true remedy is an expedited briefing schedule and hearing with a final decision from this Court prior to November 8, 2014 in order that the Athletics will be permitted to exercise the option set forth in the Option Agreement.

This seems like a hollow stance for the City to have, since the land won’t necessarily go away just because the option agreement will expire. It will still be there, waiting for development, whether from a ballpark or something else, and in the future the land could easily be negotiated at the same price, as long as Santa Clara County and the Successor Agency signed off on it.

The other takeaway is the phrasing in the first paragraph: “…or the Athletics may choose another site for their new stadium.” Well, that would certainly be a November Surprise, wouldn’t it?

In addition, the City argues that MLB has delayed long enough – which it certainly has, but MLB has responded time and time again that it can make a decision on whatever timeline it chooses thanks to its antitrust exemption. If the judge rules in the City’s favor, that would be an indication that there’s substance to San Jose’s argument about economic damage.

Speaking of the antitrust exemption, another lawsuit was filed yesterday against MLB. This time it’s a potential class action suit in federal court alleging that baseball fails to pay minor league players minimum wage. At Fangraphs, Wendy Thurm wrote an examination of the lawsuit and its ramifications. With this suit and related ones, attacks on MLB’s broadcast blackout policy, and the City going after territorial rights, the antitrust exemption is defending itself on at least three fronts. Essentially all of these lawsuits go after the outdated notion that baseball is not a business, but rather a number of recreational exhibitions. As an $8 billion enterprise, you have think that at some point that notion shouldn’t hold water.

18 thoughts on “San Jose files reply brief in Ninth Circuit

  1. Gotta love San Jose’s “We have nothing to lose” lawsuit, which must be annoying the Hell out of Selig and MLB. They certainly deserve to be sued.

  2. Cotchett is asking this to be expedited because he is fronting all the costs and has to fight this on two fronts on top of the option expiring, Wolff could easily extend that if he wishes.

    This is the Federal piece above while he will be fighting the State piece in Santa Cruz County in the near future.

    The lawsuit is proceeding quite nicely as San Jose is forcing MLB to fight this on two fronts like Piazza did successfully years ago.

    MLB is a business plain and simple and relocation is not covered by their anti-trust exemption. Piazza won in the 9th circuit and that case will take precedent here in a big way.

    I just wish San Jose sued years ago…

  3. I can’t wait to hear MLB explaining their actions in a discovery phase. I have no doubt that MLB’s lawyers will do everything they can legally do to prevent that scenario from happening.

  4. Jesus!!! Just go after the Rays of Tampa!!!!!! Parasites

  5. I guess I’m the only SJ partisan who’s never liked this legal action. What San Jose should have done years ago is acquire the ENTIRE Diridon parcel and cleared it completely for immediate construction; then offered the land to Wolff for a discounted price, market rate land lease or a cheap land lease. IF all the aforementioned had occurred and MLB still dragged it’s feet, then maybe a lawsuit would have been in order. But taking legal action when you’ve basically completed only half of your homework assignment?!

  6. San Jose always has the power to take the rest of the site by eminent domain. But there’s no point to acquiring the entire site if the city won’t get the team. MLB knew San Jose was waiting for a “go” sign to get moving on the rest of the site. But MLB chose to do absolutely nothing. As a result, the A’s remain stuck in a rotting, half-century-old football stadium while Selig twiddles his thumbs.

  7. @ BSJ,

    Parasites?! The A’s have been treated like crap by their host town for nearly 20 years (see Mt. Davis, condos at best ballpark site and current filthy situation). Trust me; the A’s WANT this “parasite” to succeed! BTW, welcome to the blog…

  8. Yes, Tony D: Oakland provides its MLB team with the worst facility in the Majors, won’t pay for a new facility and then claims victimhood, when – gasp! – the A’s decide they’d rather leave town than lose Big $$ building in Oakland with their own money.

  9. Back on topic: RM, are you aware of any mediation or backroom dealing going on to avert further nonsense, I MEAN legal action?

  10. I do like the fact that LW indicated he intended to exercise the option- obviously part of the process but that was in January of this year- 7 months after bs supposedly denied him SJ-

  11. @GoA’s,
    When did Wolff say that? That would be awesome, but I haven’t read/heard anything about that one.

  12. Tony, what’s the old saying … “Ah, shut the hell up!”

  13. It’s in the briefing embedded in ML’s write-up. He wrote a letter to successor agency indicating that the option was valid and he expected it to be honored-SJ attorneys cite it as proof that it is a valid option-

  14. @ GoA’s,

  15. ML is correct – with $8 bil. revenue – MLB is not a business? (what?) Also the MLB ATE is becoming more outmoded by the year – with the astronomical huge cable tv deals (the YES network earns $300 mil. annually, for example), even the website earns $600 mil. annually for MLB. – it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the MLB ATE. (When it was passed, in 1922(before the NFL, television, cable television, the internet, etc) it was not considered anti-competetive because congress didn’t believe it was interstate business – very outdated now.)

  16. This san Jose lawsuit does not worry me. I can picture in a couple years the construction of the new Raider stadium and lew wolff/John Fisher announcing Coliseum City field will be ready by 2018

  17. Show restraint and keep the thread clean gentlemen..

  18. This lawsuit was filed in June 2013. We are now in February 2014 it has been officially 5 years since the BRC was formed in 2009.

    San Jose showed faith in Selig to do the right thing and he refuses to do so. This lawsuit is the only way the A’s get to San Jose unless the new commissioner (who knows if Selig actually does retire) does the right thing and we have no idea who that is going to be.

    AT&T will not sell their land at Diridon unless forced to by eminent domain therefore San Jose cannot complete the land purchase until this is ruled on it court or MLB lets the A’s try in San Jose.

    It is sad it has come to litigation but Selig is a “jackass” and unless you force him to move he won’t.

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