THE BLOG

Why San Jose Sued Major League Baseball -- And Wrote Its Own Declaration of Independence

06/19/2013 06:59 pm ET | Updated Aug 19, 2013

Original Joe's has become a San Jose institution by serving the best eggplant parmesan in the Bay Area for over 50 years. It has thrived in Downtown San Jose because the owners, the Rocca family, like so many other San Jose businesspeople, know what it takes to compete. As they compete for the loyalty of their patrons, Original Joe's has helped to support the college tuitions and mortgages of generations of cooks and wait staff.

An independent study shows that downtown hotels, clubs, restaurants, shops, and cafes like Original Joe's would benefit from the over $83 million in annual spending from visitors to a Downtown ballpark, but they're denied that opportunity. They're denied that opportunity because the San Francisco Giants' lawyers, lobbyists, and billionaire owners are afraid of competition, and Major League Baseball protects them from competition.

In San Jose, we welcome competition, because we know that an economy that values competition is the same economy that enables Silicon Valley to lead the world in the innovation. San Jose is already the largest city in Northern California, and every projection tells us that over the next couple of decades, we'll grow more than the next three largest cities -- Fremont, SF, and Oakland -- combined. We provide a home to the world's most talented, diverse workforce, and to hundreds of great companies -- from Adobe to Brocade to Cisco to Xilinx -- that drive global innovation. Those companies -- like the companies in every other American industry -- must compete fairly against their peers, as required by federal anti-trust laws. Every American industry, that is, except Major League Baseball.

We relish the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. This lawsuit is San Jose's declaration of independence -- the time is long since past for San Jose to take its future into its own hands. Our destiny won't be shaped by billionaire team owners, their lawyers, or their lobbyists. And if Major League Baseball doesn't want to allow one of their teams to move to San Jose, we're happy to take their money -- as federal antitrust law provides for treble damages for anticompetitive behavior.

What will this lawsuit cost San Jose taxpayers? The City of San Jose will not pay a dime in attorneys' fees. One of the finest litigation firms in the nation, the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy, will take this case without a fee from the City. Federal antitrust law allows them to collect their fee, if we prevail, from Major League Baseball. If we don't prevail, they don't collect a fee. If we do, then MLB picks up the tab -- along with tens of millions of dollars to be paid to San Jose taxpayers.

How do San Jose taxpayers benefit? Direct net revenues as a result of a half-billion-dollar ballpark development will very conservatively exceed $30 million to the City of San Jose over the next 30 years, according to a 2009 independent published analysis. School districts, the County, and other public agencies would garner tens of millions more. That's real money that San Jose taxpayers have foregone as a result of the anti-competitive meddling of the San Francisco Giant's ownership.

The A's ownership and the San Jose City Council have publicly committed that the stadium will be wholly privately financed, so taxpayers benefit from all of these revenues to support police, libraries, and other vital city services.

On Sunday, a sewage pipe backup at the 47-year-old O.co Coliseum forced the A's and Seattle Mariners to vacate their clubhouses. The opposing teams moved into the same locker room, sharing the one used by the NFL's Oakland Raiders, the stadium's other tenant.

Nothing sings "Do you know the way to San Jose?" like a backed-up sewage in locker rooms.