City of Oakland Sues NFL for Raiders Las Vegas Relocation, Seeks $80M in Financial Damages

Posted on: December 12, 2018, 07:10h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2018, 10:49h.

The City of Oakland has filed a federal lawsuit in the US Northern District of California against the Raiders and the entire NFL for the team’s planned 2020 relocation to Las Vegas.

Oakland Raiders lawsuit Las Vegas
Mark Davis, the NFL, and the Raiders are named in a federal lawsuit filed by the City of Oakland. (Image: Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

The California city argues that the transfer violates antitrust laws and leaves Oakland taxpayers with an $80 million debt stemming from renovations made at the Coliseum where the NFL franchise has played since 1995. The plaintiff is seeking financial damages to pay off the debt, but isn’t trying to stop the team from moving to Las Vegas.

The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers, and dedicated fans with the bill,” Oakland city attorney Barbara Parker said in a release. “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.”

In March 2017, 31 of the league’s 32 owners voted to allow Raiders owner Mark Davis to move the team to Las Vegas. The team will play in the $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium being constructed just west of the Strip and I-15 between Hacienda Avenue and Russell Road.

NFL commissioners had long shunned Sin City due to the town’s widespread sports gambling. But owners opted to allow the Raiders move, and the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to strike down the federal sports gambling ban has since eased opposition to Las Vegas.

Oakland Days Numbered

The Raiders could play their final home game in Oakland when they host the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football’s Christmas Eve broadcast. At 3-10 and tied for the worst record in the entire NFL, there will be no postseason for Oakland in 2018.

As for 2019, Davis hasn’t signed a lease for where the team will play its home games. The owner said recently he hoped to keep the Raiders in the Bay Area for another year, but the lawsuit against his organization shows just how soured his relationship with local officials has become.

Parker labels the NFL a “cartel” in the 353-page lawsuit. “The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league’s own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city,” she added.

San Diego, which lost its Chargers team to Los Angeles last year, is viewed as a potential one-year solution for the Raiders.

Lawsuit Long Odds

Davis was in Dallas this week for an NFL owners’ meeting and said only that the lawsuit is “meritless and malicious.” One law professor seems to agree.

Talking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Penn State University law professor Stephen F. Ross says no city has ever won an antitrust lawsuit.

“What I think is interesting about the complaint is that they complain that the NFL is a monopoly … and they complained that because the NFL is a monopoly, the NFL is able to exploit taxpayers by raising the price of the franchise,” Ross explained. “But the solution is money damages rather than what we typically do in those situations, which is break up the monopoly.”

Forbes estimates that the Raiders franchise will increase in value by $1 billion with its move to Las Vegas.