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City of San Jose could sue San Francisco Giants

Mar 3, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT

Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Four Getty Images

Well, this is interesting. San Jose has been an oft-discussed new locale for the Oakland Athletics if they were to move, but the San Francisco Giants have been a thorn in their paw, so to speak. San Jose may be ready to flip the script.

Sam Liccardo, the San Jose CityCouncil member whose district includes most of the proposed downtown ballpark property, wants the city to sue the Giants. They continue to claim territorial rights to the South Bay and, empowered by Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, have used that claim to block the A’s quest at every turn.

Liccardo’s strategy, if affirmed by his council colleagues, could be a game-changer. It would be a cunning reverse twist on the Giants’ own veiled (and nonveiled) threats to pursue legal action against San Jose and other entities if the A’s are allowed to move south.

“The concern that seems to be broadly discussed is about litigation on behalf of the San Francisco Giants,” Liccardo said the other day at his City Hall office. “But the San Francisco Giants should become concerned about the threat of a lawsuit by the city of San Jose.”

Liccardo goes on to say that a “conservative” estimate of the financial benefit of San Jose hosting a baseball team would be in the neighborhood of $30 million over 30 years.

Oakland has finished in the bottom-five among all 30 Major League teams in average attendance dating back to 2006, including finishing dead last in 2009 and 2011. Their ballpark, the Coliseum, is 46 years old and is the last remaining multi-purpose stadium as it plays home to both the A’s and the Raiders. A move, which would include a new stadium, could provide a significant windfall to one of baseball’s poorer teams.

  1. randygnyc - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    $30 million over 30 years? That doesn’t seem possible. Must be $300 million. Otherwise, it’s hardly worth it.

    • mgoldst19 - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      Studies have shown that professional sports hardly ever make a noticeable, positive impact on a city. People spend money at stadiums and neighboring establishments, but, in the absence of those stadiums, they simply spend that same money elsewhere in the city.

      Fighting for professional sports teams is worth it for politicians because it’s something they can run on, and something they can cash in on for themselves in the private sector.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        And the proposed ballpark location is (I believe) within walking distance of HP Pavilion, which has traditionally been one of the busiest arenas in the world, so it’s not like the ballpark would be bringing people to a new area. I’m sure it would bring in more business to the area and increase the tax revenue for the city but it’s so hard to project what that will be more than a couple of years down the road because so much depends on the team being good enough to draw fans away from the Giants since a lot of the team’s current fanbase won’t be able to quickly take public transportation to games the way they used to and Santa Clara County generally has more Giants fans than A’s fans.

  2. kiwicricket - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Just what the world needs, more political posturing. The lawyers are rubbing their hands together as we speak.
    $30million over 30yrs??? A city council of that size spends that on grass seed and bird feeders over that period.

  3. mckcal - Mar 3, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Liccardo is running for mayor in 2014. This is part of the campaign. I would love for the A’s to move to SJ but hard to see what legal obligation the SF Giants have here.

    • 4d3fect - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:55 PM

      This. Dude’s just trying to make a name for himself.

      • 4d3fect - Mar 3, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        Oh, and billable hours for his pals.

  4. Kevin S. - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    Huh, wonder what the last time somebody sued for the right to waste nine figures was.

  5. jkcalhoun - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    Wake me up when they file.

  6. cackalackyank - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    This lawsuit will probably be filed around the same time that Selig’s special committee gets off its collective ass and does something. In other words…never.

  7. imaduffer - Mar 3, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    The City of San Jose destroyed my neighborhood about 8 years ago. That’s why we left. San Jose is a dump, build a ball park and destroy another neighborhood.

  8. Marty - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    “I will sue to the fullest extent available to me with other people’s money”

    This idiot is ridiculous. The same breed of stupidity that has these cities paying salaries and pensions they can barely afford staff half their positions with.

  9. hcf95688 - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:43 PM

  10. simon94022 - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:52 PM

    If San Jose sues the Giants, it’s an all or nothing gamble. The minute such a suit is filed, the chances of MLB authorizing the A’s to relocate to SJ will drop to zero.

    • hcf95688 - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:14 AM

      It worked for Tampa.

  11. Minoring In Baseball - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:32 AM

    From reading other blogs, fans state that they don’t like the location of the stadium in Oakland. Bad ‘hood, and all that. A move to San Jose with a new park in a better environment would only be a positive move. It’s like they’d be really stealing fans from the Giants. It would just give A’s fans a good reason to see their team play.

  12. multiplemiggs - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    I like baseballs

  13. jkcalhoun - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Purdy’s column is the second instance I’ve seen of the use of the word “obstructionist” in connection with the Giants’ position. (The first was in a comment posted here by a well-known regular.)

    Obstructionism implies that you’re trying to prevent progress or resolution, not that you’re making a legitimate case against somebody else. If what the Giants are doing is obstructionist, then all those asserting claims against what they believe to be encroachment, infringement, or seizure are also “obstructionist”.

    Here’s the real deal: MLB played the San Jose card back in 1990 in order to keep the Giants in the Bay Area. MLB wanted a strong NL franchise with good ownership somewhere on the Peninsula. Even though it didn’t work out as envisioned, since the Giants didn’t move south, that play was nonetheless crucial to their turnaround, because the Giants’ new ownership after 1992 was able to secure deals that resulted in the construction of their new ballpark in San Francisco in part because of their MLB-sanctioned association with Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley. They have obviously been thriving over the last decade, but they claim that their connection to the San Jose area is essential to their continued success. In other words, they claim that shuffling the San Jose card back into the deck and playing it again on behalf of the A’s would devalue their investment and weaken their franchise.

    Far from implying that the Giants have a secret plan to squeeze the A’s out of the Bay Area, this means only that they believe that the terms under which they bought their franchise (and which were firmly established when the A’s current ownership bought theirs) should remain in place, and that whatever the A’s need to do to secure a new ballpark of their own must be done without harming them.

    Whatever team you’re a fan of, nobody wants their pockets picked. I hope it’s clear now that “obstructionist” is a term chosen to inflame rather than to elucidate.

  14. blabidibla - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    San Jose is a big city in desperate need of a national identity. All in all, sports fans there are not either Giants or A’s fans, but both. Yes, less South Bay fans will travel north for Giants games on a regular basis, but they will still go. They will still buy merchandise. And I have little doubt the Giants will still fill their park with relative ease.

    The A’s would benefit greatly. San Jose would embrace them wholeheartedly.

    Either way this goes, MLB needs to poop or get off the pot already. Make a freaking decision and move on.

  15. giantpaul - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Have the voters of San Jose actually had a vote to approve funding of this stadium? I would think that after so many failed attempts and knowing the way the voters feel about spending money, that they just might reject it.

    That said, agree with Simon about, Sue Giants, MLB will NEVER approve a move.

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