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MLB Warns Of ‘Absurd’ Results Of San Jose’s Antitrust Suit

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
August 8, 2013

Calling a lawsuit’s potential results “absurd” for cities around the United States, Major League Baseball asked a federal judge to dismiss a challenge to its antitrust exemption filed by San Jose, Calif. The city filed the suit to press its case for relocating the Oakland A’s there.

NPR’s Richard Gonzales filed this report for our Newscast unit:

“Lawyers for Major League Baseball say San Jose’s lawsuit is barred by nearly a century of established law that exempts the sport from an antitrust challenge. San Jose filed suit in June, claiming injury because baseball commissioner Bud Selig has dragged his feet deciding whether the Oakland A’s can move to San Jose.

“The Silicon Valley city claims that it is losing revenue and potential jobs tied to building a new stadium for the team. But baseball’s lawyers argue that San Jose has no standing since baseball never had a relationship with the city — and that if San Jose were allowed to sue Major League Baseball, then so could any other city in the country that wants a baseball team.”

If the city’s claim is upheld, MLB attorney John Keker said in a court filing Wednesday, “it would lead to absurd results: every time a franchise contemplated relocation, MLB would be subjected to suits from any city that desires a team and from any city that does not want to lose a team.”

Keker’s view was cited in The San Jose Mercury News, which also notes that the Oakland A’s owner, Lew Wolff, is in favor of moving the team to San Jose.

As Gonzales reports, a court hearing on the lawsuit is expected in October.

Baseball was granted an antitrust exemption back in 1922, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Major League Baseball “was not subject to the Sherman Act because it was intrastate ‘entertainment,’ not ‘commerce,’ ” a 2005 article on the DC Bar’s website notes.

“By virtue of the exemption, coupled with decades of reluctance of various courts to overrule, baseball is the only sport, or business for that matter, that has an exemption to the extent that it does,” according to ESPN. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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