Oakland to sue NFL over Raiders move

Oakland will file a lawsuit against the NFL, the Oakland Raiders and all other teams in the league over the Raiders upcoming relocation to Las Vegas.

Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced Tuesday that the city will file a federal antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit to recover damages from the “illegal” move, including lost revenue, money that Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders and other costs. 

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The city argued in a press release that the NFL violated federal antitrust laws by “boycotting Oakland in the marketplace for hosting a football club.” The lawsuit will not, however, seek to prevent the move or keep the team in Oakland.

“The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league’s own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city,” Parker said. “The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill. The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold the defendants accountable and help to compensate Oakland for the damages the defendants’ unlawful actions have caused and will cause to the people of Oakland.” 

The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The city argues that the move violated the NFL’s own relocation policies, which account for issues such as population, economic projections, facilities, regional balance and fan loyalty, qualities that the city argues favor Oakland, in determining which cities can host a football team.

“Recently, the NFL has allowed NFL clubs to move even when the relocation is a clear violation of its relocation policies. Threats of relocation are a central part of the NFL’s practice of demanding public financing for new stadiums, which significantly increase team revenues and ticket prices. Further, each time an NFL club moves, all NFL teams share in a ‘relocation fee,’ ” the city said in a press release.

“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 for professional football teams, caused skyrocketing ticket prices, and enriched the NFL owners. In violation of the antitrust laws, the NFL is using its cartel status to undermine competition and generate fortunes for themselves, all at a significant cost to taxpayers,” it added. 

Parker will file the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California along with the law firms of Berg & Androphy and Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP, who plan to make the case that the NFL plans to cash in after violating its relocation rules.

“The NFL supposedly has objective rules about team location which were completely ignored,” said Clifford Pearson, lead attorney from Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP. “Before a team is ripped from the fabric of a community, there needs to be a valid reason other than simply money. The City of Oakland deserved better treatment.”

The Oakland City Council voted to authorize the lawsuit in July.

The team could move to Nevada as early as 2019 and is scheduled to start playing in a new stadium in Las Vegas for the 2020 season.