June 13, 2023

Representatives Lee and DeSaulnier Introduce Legislation to Address Major League Baseball’s Anti-Trust Exemption

Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10) today introduced the “Moneyball Act”, legislation that would require the owners of any professional baseball club seeking to relocate to compensate the state and local authorities they move away from. If the owners do not oblige, then Major League Baseball would be subject to the anti-trust laws they have been exempt from for over a century.

This legislation comes as the Oakland Athletics, who have called Oakland home for half a century, are actively seeking to relocate to Las Vegas. Congresswoman Lee recently sent a letter to MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred requesting that he not be involved in active negotiations, despite his prior discussion of waving the MLB’s standard “relocation fee,” which would be charged to a team in the event of their relocation to a new city.

“This legislation will ensure that no city and community is left behind when billionaires decide that lining their own pockets is more important than the community that supports them,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “The Oakland Athletics have been an institution of the East Bay for over half a century. If the A’s ownership group decides to leave, Oakland should not be left empty handed.”

“I am proud to introduce this bill with Congresswoman Lee on behalf of the East Bay and communities across the country that stand to lose out as a result of corporate greed in sports,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.

Currently, Major League Baseball is exempt from federal anti-trust laws based on a century-old determination by the Supreme Court. The bill seeks to fairly compensate cities for the revenue, jobs, and commerce lost when a team leaves their community. Major League Baseball claims that the anti-trust exemption is necessary to keep franchises from frequently changing cities. However, if a professional baseball club is deliberately incentivized to leave their home city and bring their revenue elsewhere, the legal and public policy bases for such exemption should be nullified, rendering MLB subject to the Sherman Act.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.