San Jose has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite hearing its challenge to Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption in the city’s effort to move the Oakland Athletics to San Jose and build a stadium.
In papers filed late Wednesday, lawyers for San Jose said the city and the Oakland A’s entered into an option agreement to move the team but it expires November 8, 2014. The city has asked the appeals court to hear its case before that date.
Baseball has had a court-created exemption from antitrust law since a 1922 decision set that precedent.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte said he was bound by that decision in siding with the Commissioner of Baseball’s opposition to the A’s move to San Jose. But in going along with the long-standing precedent Whyte wrote, “This court agrees with the other jurists that have found baseball’s antitrust exemption to be ‘unrealistic, inconsistent, or illogical. The exemption is an ‘aberration’ that makes little sense given the heavily interstate nature of the ‘business of baseball’ today.”
San Jose argues that a speedy briefing and appeal period will help resolve the dispute, saying “MLB has and continues to deny the rights of baseball clubs and cities to freely negotiate relocation based on indisputably anticompetitive conduct.”
All other sports in the United States are government by the same antitrust laws, only baseball has the unique exemption based on a “highly questionable legal precedent,” the court papers state.
Case: City of San Jose v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, No. 14-15139