An unusual territorial battle is taking shape in the San Francisco Bay — but instead of involving any of the area's high-tech giants such as Apple, Facebook or Google, this one centers on the city of San Jose's efforts to move the Oakland A’s baseball team to the South Bay. With no progress thus far, the City of San Jose filled an antitrust lawsuit against the Major League Baseball (MLB) on Tuesday. The lawsuit says, "For years, MLB has unlawfully conspired to control the location and relocation of major league men's professional baseball clubs under the guise of an 'antitrust exemption' applied to the business of baseball." The lawsuit accuses the MLB of conspiring to maintain a monopolistic control of the baseball business and challenges the San Francisco Giants' territorial claim of San Jose, a city in the South Bay, some 50 miles south of San Francisco.
The lawsuit furthermore claims that Bud Selig, the commissioner of the MLB, violated anti-competitive practice laws and questions the righteousness of the MLB being exempted from the antitrust law by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1920’s. The MLB’s exemption of government scrutiny over violations stems from the Sherman Act, a federal statute passed in the late 1800s that prohibited various unfair business practices that the government deemed anti-competitive. The act also requires the federal government to audit and scrutinize various companies to ensure they were not in violation. The MLB was granted an exemption to this law because baseball was deemed a form of entertainment rather than business or commerce, thus avoiding any of the interstate commerce laws or regulations.
Quite frankly, as a proud resident of San Jose, I would love to see the Oakland A’s move down to the South Bay. This would generate revenue for the city, draw in a lot of businesses and overall, get rid of this overarching cloud San Francisco has over the entire Bay Area, giving cities like San Jose a chance to grow and share the spotlight. So who is in the right? Is it rational for San Jose to sue the MLB for violating antitrust and anti-competitive laws? Furthermore, should the MLB be exempted from various antitrust laws because baseball is deemed a form of “entertainment” rather than a business? Is it fair for all other sports or “entertainers” to have to follow these stringent antitrust guidelines while the MLB does not? Let me know what you think.