Let me start by saying that I am NOT a lawyer. Am a life long A's fan, and I want to see the team get back to being a consistent World Series contender and see the move to San Jose as the only viable way economically for the team while still remaining in the Bay Area.
OK to the point. Although it seems that the Giants hold all the cards in this dispute there seems to be historical and legal precedents that dictate otherwise. Here is the the link...http://bit.ly/wVu0vs (skip the reserve clause stuff and go to the expansion/relocation section). The article suggests that if the A's can demonstrate economic hardship (easy) and San Jose offers a viable home (a bit tougher) for them then MLB would be compelled to: (1) Allow the A's to move to SJ; or (2) Find a buyer for the team to keep them in Oakland AND allow San Jose to get an expansion team. With option #2 Wolff holds the cards because MLB would have to meet his price for him to sell (assume that no one would want to buy the A's and keep them in Oakland without a new stadium or if they want to buy the A's it would be at such a discount that Wolff would not sell). Basically the argument states that MLB's ATE is more theoretical than actual in practice, could not withstand serious judicial challenge, and that MLB would acquiesce in order to keep its ATE. Now if this legal argument is right I cannot see how MLB (or the Giants) would want 3 teams in the market and MLB would not want to pay a premium to buyout Wolff and then sell at a loss to a buyer who would keep the team in Oakland under the current economics. However, the article suggests that the strongest and most threatening legal challenge in this scenario would be for Wolff to agree to sell the team to a buyer who wants to put the team in San Jose. In this case, if MLB or the Giants tried to block the sale then Wolff, the proposed buyer, and San Jose could claim that they were negatively effected by MLB's ATE and thus challenge MLB and ATE in court (the Giants could also claim that they would be economically hurt) then the courts would have to decide if a proposed move 35 miles away from the current Giants location would adversely harm the Giants. Any lawyers legal scholars out there to provide input?