A Grand Slam of Eminent Domain Abuses

As the World Series reaches a climax tonight in one of the most exciting Series in decades, a small storm in the world of baseball has also been brewing on the West coast. Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolf is interested in bringing the A’s to San Jose, where the Mayor is pulling out all stops to make it happen.

While Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has yet to sign off on the agreement, and the league will have to vote on change, all the plans are in place to make this happen. The only hiccup is the land. AT&T and Los Gatos are refusing to sell their 5.5 acres that are needed to build the stadium. As a result, the city is considering using eminent domain to push them off of the property. Thus, despite profitable businesses using the property, the government is willing to kick them off to benefit a more politically connected business.

Unfortunately, this scene has become all too common in the world of sports. A similar situation has occurred with many teams, recently including the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts. Most famously, then Governor George W. Bush used eminent domain to force many to sell their land in order to build the Texas Ranger’s Ballpark, though they have since relocated. The result is a negative precedent that allows sports team to take other’s property rights with little political resistance.

While we here at the PRA wish the Rangers the best of luck tonight (and the same to the Cardinals, of course), we do not support for the continued use of eminent domain to build sports arenas. This is clearly a repetition of the Kelo case; the government should not be able to kick someone off of their land simply because the government believes it can make money off of it. Sports teams should be assets of the local community, not usurpers of it.