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Based on Major League Baseball’s constitution and by-laws, there are defined physical territories for all 30 of the clubs. The Giants currently control Santa Clara Co. where the A’s are seeking to relocate. At one point the A’s controlled the county but Walter Haas relinquished it in the 1990s when then Giants owner Bob Lurie sought to relocate that team to San Jose. Two referendums for stadium funding failed, and only a last minute effort for a new ballpark in San Francisco saved the Giants from relocation out of the region. Even though the Giants never relocated to San Jose, the rights to Santa Clara Co. were reaffirmed, and they have stayed in the Giants control to this day.
|The A's have often had trouble drawing fans to the outdated O.co Coliseum.|
Of the four two-team markets in MLB, only the Giants and A’s do not share the exact same geographic boundaries. MLB-recorded minutes clearly indicate that the Giants were granted Santa Clara, subject to relocating to the city of Santa Clara. The granting of Santa Clara to the Giants was by agreement with the A’s late owner Walter Haas, who approved the request without compensation. The Giants were unable to obtain a vote to move and the return of Santa Clara to its original status was not formally accomplished.
We are not seeking a move that seeks to alter or in any manner disturb MLB territorial rights. We simply seek an approval to create a new venue that our organization and MLB fully recognizes is needed to eliminate our dependence on revenue sharing, to offer our fans and players a modern ballpark, to move over 35 miles further away from the Giants’ great venue and to establish an exciting competition between the Giants and A’s.
But this is a complicated case with complex issues. I’m just not in a position now -- before any motions are filed -- to say which parties have the better of the argument. It looks like San Jose is on pretty shaky ground, but if the city can get past the motion stage of the case -- and into discovery -- the chances for a settlement that results in the A’s moving to San Jose go up.
And at the end of the day, San Jose cares much more about getting an MLB franchise than about blowing up baseball’s antitrust exemption.