Oakland announced plans to sue the Raiders, its longtime National Football League franchise, over what the city calls the team’s “illegal move to Las Vegas.”
In fact, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker’s announced action includes 31 other teams, as well as the NFL.
The City Attorney recommended and the Oakland City Council authorized filing the lawsuit to recover damages resulting from the Raiders’ illegal move to Las Vegas, including lost revenue, money that Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders and other costs.
In voting to approve the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas and boycotting Oakland in the marketplace for hosting a football club, the NFL defendants violated federal antitrust laws. The Raiders’ move also violated the NFL’s own policies for team relocation.
“The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league’s own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city,” notes Parker, referring to NFL teams as “a cartel” that employs “threats of relocation” to bully cities like Oakland.
“The NFL’s demand for the public to bankroll new stadiums under threat of club relocation has pushed cities like Oakland out of the marketplace,” says Parker.
The city voted to authorize a potential suit in July.
[Update: In a public statement, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf supported the litigation, alleging, “The NFL’s Billionaires Boys Club and Raiders owner Mark Davis ditched Oakland out of sheer greed and left taxpayers with millions in unpaid stadium debt” and accusing the team of “bad faith.”]
Founded in 1960, the Raiders were an Oakland-born team, once playing for Los Angeles from 1982 until 1994.
According to the team’s autobiographical timeline, the Raiders previously faced similar litigation from the NFL over the LA move.
“[A] U.S. Federal District Court Jury unanimously [found] for the Raiders and against the NFL on both the antitrust count and bad faith charges setting up court order to prevent Raiders from being illegally stopped from moving to Los Angeles.”
The team returned to Oakland in 1995. Long unhappy about playing at the Oakland Coliseum—which the city now wants to replace—the Raiders went on the hunt for a new venue again as early as 2011.
The team’s new, $1.9 billion Las Vegas stadium won’t be ready until 2020, according to CBS Sports, posing a mystery about where the team will play its next season.
Raiders management has not yet responded to requests for comment.