| LOS ANGELES, June 18
LOS ANGELES, June 18 Weeks after a fight over
the Sacramento Kings basketball team ended with promises of a
new arena and a decision to stay in town, a tussle over another
ball club is roiling professional sports in California - this
time involving baseball.
In an action that highlights the big dollars at stake when
teams move to a new community, the city of San Jose sued Major
League Baseball on Tuesday, alleging it was holding up a
proposed relocation by the Oakland Athletics.
San Jose's argument - that a new stadium and the presence of
the Athletics would add thousands of jobs and millions of
dollars in needed revenue - is a key element in an ongoing
series of relocation fights among cities and sports teams.
In California, some cities have been loath to spend money
that teams are demanding for new stadiums, said David Carter, a
sports business expert at the University of Southern California.
"California is leading the nation in an unwillingness to
allocate taxpayer dollars to keeping teams in town with respect
to new arenas and otherwise subsidizing these owners," Carter
A key reason is the example of Staples Center in Los
Angeles, which is highly successful and was built with more
private money than many of the deals demanded by teams and their
owners, he said.
Staples Center's owner, Anschutz Entertainment Group,
"proved that private dollars can create a successful venue,"
Carter said, "and that has spawned a ripple effect that has
affected every major league sport."
In neighboring Arizona, a similar fight is heating up over a
professional hockey team. A group seeking to buy the National
Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes is asking the suburb of
Glendale, where the team plays, to contribute up to $15 million
a year to help manage the team's arena.
The league, which took ownership of the team almost four
years ago, has rejected all attempts to relocate the team. But
if the new ownership group is unable to negotiate a lease with
Glendale, moving the franchise may be the only solution.
In the Northern California city of Oakland, next door to San
Francisco, the owners of the Athletics have long been frustrated
with the city's aging stadium.
In 2011, the team signed an agreement with San Jose, in
nearby Silicon Valley, that granted the Athletics, owner Lew
Wolff, partners and family members the right to buy land there
for a new stadium. The land would cost $7 million, both sides
But San Jose's lawsuit, filed in federal court, says that
Major League Baseball views San Jose as part of the territory of
the San Francisco Giants - meaning the Oakland team cannot move
there without permission.
Joseph Cotchett, the lawyer representing the city in the
suit, said that amounted to a violation of federal anti-trust
laws, which regulate monopolies, even though a Supreme Court
decision decades ago exempted baseball from some of those laws.
Major League Baseball, he told Reuters, had not acted in a
timely way to consider the San Jose deal, costing the city more
than 1,000 construction jobs and millions in lost revenue.
He said that Major League Baseball, long a proponent of the
idea that stadium deals bring needed money to cities, was
expected to argue that San Jose had not been harmed by its
slowness in approving this one.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig "is going to make that
argument along with the other owners," Cotchett said. "And we
know it's false."
Neither Selig nor a spokesman for Major League Baseball was
immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
Wolff, the Athletics' owner, cited a desire to move to
downtown San Jose, but said his team would respect "agreements
that govern our participation in MLB."
"We seek our needed new venue based solely on the merits of
the move and the benefits to MLB, the A's and our fans and
sponsors," he said in a statement.