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San Francisco threatens to sue if the A's move to San Jose

Dec 18, 2009, 9:27 AM EST

San Francisco.JPGNot the San Francisco Giants. The City of San Francisco:

City Attorney Dennis Herrera gave Major League Baseball a little chin
music on Thursday, firing off a letter suggesting San Francisco would
sue the league if it approves moving the Oakland Athletics to San Jose . . . “I need to make sure the interests of the city and its taxpayers are
protected . . . The city and county of San Francisco has a
vital interest in making sure the Giants are successful and viable so
they can make good on their obligations to the city.”

Setting aside the entire issue of the antitrust exemption which could prevent this suit in the first place, on what possible theory would the City of San Francisco have standing to sue baseball over a franchise move that doesn’t even involve (a) the team that lives in the city; and (b) the city itself (here’s a basic definition of legal standing for you non-lawyers out there)?

Sure, San Francisco has a financial interest in the Giants doing well. But so do the ferry companies. So do the beer vendors. So do the people that print giant foam fingers that say “Giants” on them.  Would Dennis Herrera admit that they all have standing to sue too? Wait. Don’t answer that. Would a court say they have standing? Doubtful.

I’ve always been dubious of the whole territorial claim the Giants have on San Jose to begin with anyway. Yes, I know they technically “own” that territory, but it doesn’t make any kind of sense for them to be so protective of it.  The ballpark in Oakland is a sixteen mile drive from AT&T Park.  Downtown San Jose is forty miles away. Which location is more likely to draw people away from Giants’ games?  And besides, San Jose was Athletics territory for years anyway. They gave it to the Giants in order to help them out when the Giants had stadium issues.  If New York and Chicago can handle coequal team territory, the Bay Area should be able to handle it too.

But good luck with your lawsuit anyway, Mr. Herrera.

  1. Jonny5 - Dec 18, 2009 at 9:52 AM

    Craig, I can say this now without offending since you are no longer one of “them”. Besides Politicians, Lawyers are the biggest contributer to ruining our country. Of course most Politicians began life as Lawyers so I guess it’s a wash huh? Lawyers are the largest group of people who benefit from the misfortunes of others ,along with ex lawyer Politicians. You can add talk show hosts under the two above. They benefit from exploiting the misfortunes of others on national Television. From rape victims to incest babies…… Such a shame….. Hey at least you wised up and became a journalist!!! You’re alright Craig.

  2. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 18, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    The city and county of San Francisco has a vital interest in making sure the Giants are successful and viable so they can make good on their obligations to the city.”

    Devil’s Advocate here (and since I’m neither a lawyer nor an economics/financial expert), could this possibly have to do with loan repayments the Giants may owe to the city? By having the only game in town, if a fan wants to see a game they have to go to the Giants. However, if the A’s move there, they offer another option for a fan, thus reducing the gate for the Giants and, possibly, contributing to them defaulting on their loan payments to the city? This seems to fit on “making good on their obligations to the city”.
    Or I’m completly off base and the guy is 100% nuts.

  3. TigerS Boy ToY - Dec 18, 2009 at 10:56 AM

    City Attorney Dennis Herrera – U R A TOOL.
    THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY.
    BUH BYE

  4. APBA Guy - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    This is the kind of nonsense that has led to SF being labelled the worst managed city in the country (ok so why do I live here? For you folks back East, it’s 7:30 am, sunny, blue skies, about 60 degrees, moderate humidity. I’m 2 minutes from the Bay, 20 minutes from downtown (or AT&T Park) by train, and 15 minutes from the ocean).
    I’d call this total grandstanding by the City Attorney, but I doubt anyone in the city government, from the mayor on down, has the skill necessary for doing anything “totally”, except performing their assigned or elected duties badly.
    Here’s a good example of our current municipal incompetence:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/17/BA481B4ONT.DTL
    This kind of thing makes all of us who live near SF just crazy.
    I wonder if Giants Managing Partner Bill Neukom, ex General Counsel for Microsoft, thought this was a good idea.
    Probably.

  5. Jon M. - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    The Coliseum may be closer to AT&T than San Jose, but the Giants’ real concern isn’t people. They do pretty well on attendance. Their concern is sponsorships, season tickets and luxury boxes. Outside of San Francisco, most of the corporate wealth in the Bay Area is concentrated in the Silicon Valley and Santa Clara County, where San Jose is and where all the big tech giants are. There simply isn’t that much money in the East Bay. They Giants want to protect their rights to San Jose because right now they don’t have any competition for those big, big corporate dollars, the ones that *really* pay the bills.

  6. Jason W - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:31 AM

    Here’s a thought…put a better product on the field and your attendance will stop declining.

  7. TigerS Boy ToY - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    City Attorney Dennis Herrera – U R A TOOL.
    THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY.
    BUH BYE

  8. Anonymous - Dec 18, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    Jon M. Your pooint is well taken and proves the argument that San Jose is trying to make. Why should their residents have to drive ~50 mile to see a major league game, when they could see a game in the city limits? Why should the largest city with the biggest tax base not be allowed to support a major league team within its own area?
    The move would be good for baseball, good for San Jose, good for the Athletics, and good for the Bay Area. The Giants would only take a short-term hit, but would have easier access to the East Bay fanbase and business. It would definitely put the two teams on more of an even footing in terms of attendance, and gate receipts. Then the competitiveness between the teams would shift to achievements on the field. Oh wait, maybe that’s why the Giants are fighting it so hard, because of the past 42 years that Athletics have done better on the field. Looking at the near-term future for both teams, that trend doesn’t look like it will change.

  9. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 18, 2009 at 1:01 PM

    This is the kind of nonsense that has led to SF being labelled the worst managed city in the country (ok so why do I live here? For you folks back East, it’s 7:30 am, sunny, blue skies, about 60 degrees, moderate humidity. I’m 2 minutes from the Bay, 20 minutes from downtown (or AT&T Park) by train, and 15 minutes from the ocean).

    Yeah but you guys have Earthquakes, and that’s fucking scary. I’ll take my heat and humidity, and occasional fear of a “winter storm” here in NC over the ground possibly opening up and swallowing me any day :)

  10. Jon M. - Dec 18, 2009 at 2:26 PM

    I’m not trying to argue fairness necessarily, I’m just saying that’s how the Giants see it. And they key fact is that the A’s gave the Giants Santa Clara County. The Giants didn’t take it maliciously. And the A’s got exclusive rights to the East Bay, as far as I know, as part of the deal (I don’t see any Giants billboards anywhere in the East Bay). Now the A’s are suddenly saying they want the South Bay back. It may be fair, but it’s nowhere in the Giants financial interest to give up San Jose and the rest of the South Bay.

  11. sirsean - Dec 19, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    The “you owe us because of the taxpayer funded stadium” thing makes sense … except that the Giants’ stadium was privately funded because San Francisco wouldn’t pony up the dough.
    (There were some concessions, like cheap bonds, but San Francisco is owed less by the Giants than any other city in baseball is by their teams.)

  12. HEEL PADS - Jan 29, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    Being shorter is no sin, if everybody else around you is taller, it is obvious you would like to to look taller also.

  13. Scottie Hudlin - Feb 3, 2010 at 11:32 AM

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