Herrera Fires Brushback Pitch at MLB’s Selig Over Giants’ Territorial Rights

San Francisco’s elected chief litigator voices ‘grave concern’ about tampering, outlines City’s interest in possible A’s move to San Jose

SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 17, 2009) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today sent a sternly-worded letter to Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig expressing his “grave concern” at recent news reports about the possible development of a new baseball stadium for the Oakland A’s in San Jose — well within exclusive territory that the league has long granted to the San Francisco Giants. Herrera, who as San Francisco’s elected chief lawyer is empowered to pursue litigation on the City’s behalf, detailed the City’s substantial financial interests in the success of the Giants’ franchise, including millions of dollars in rent and tax revenues. The 6-page letter additionally outlined a brief history of the extensive involvement of San Francisco leaders and voters throughout much of the 1990s to facilitate what is now AT&T Park, and to prevent the team from relocating to Florida under its previous ownership. In accomplishing that objective, Herrera wrote, San Francisco made numerous commitments that relied on Major League Baseball’s acknowledgments that it would take no action to undermine the financial viability of the Giants franchise, or the team’s ability to meet its contractual obligations with the City.

“Yet, tampering with the Giants’ established territorial rights would be just the sort of action that the City believed Major League Baseball was in effect promising it would not do,” Herrera’s letter contends. “As the City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, I am entrusted under the San Francisco Charter with the obligation to protect the City’s legal interests and to represent the City when a cause of action exists in its favor. I write to you now to make clear up front the legal concerns I have on behalf of the City should Major League Baseball tamper with the Giant’s territorial rights.”

In March of this year, Selig announced the appointment of a committee to “thoroughly analyze all of the ballpark proposals that have been made to date, the current situation in Oakland, and the prospects of obtaining a ballpark in any of the communities located in Oakland’s territory.” Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff has voiced his wish to move the team to San Jose, saying he has exhausted his options in Oakland. Selig’s committee has met with San Jose officials at least once, according to a recent report in the San Jose Mercury News. A copy of the City Attorney Herrera’s letter is available online at https://www.sfcityattorney.org/.