Oakland set to launch lawsuit over Raiders’ move to Vegas

Oakland City Council has reportedly approved an antitrust lawsuit against American football league the NFL and the Raiders over the team’s move from the city to Las Vegas, a development that could see the franchise end its stay at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum.

Oakland Councilman Noel Gallo told the San Francisco Chronicle that the lawsuit is expected to be filed and announced ahead of the Raiders’ opening game of the 2018 season, which takes place at the Coliseum (pictured) on Monday against the Los Angeles Rams.

A second City Hall source told the newspaper that the city attorney’s office was preparing to file the antitrust suit, and is awaiting contract language sign-offs from three outside law firms that will handle the litigation.

Gallo predicted that a lawsuit against the NFL and Raiders could result in winning damages of up to $500m (£387m/€429.8m). “It’s going to happen,” Gallo said, adding that the suit was “absolutely a good thing.”

In March, the Raiders signed a lease deal with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to build its new venue in Nevada. The deal was signed exactly a year after NFL owners gave the Raiders the green light to move to Las Vegas.

The stadium will have a capacity of 65,000 and is projected to cost $1.8bn to build. It is hoped the venue will be ready in time for the 2020 NFL season. The Raiders currently hold a year-to-year lease with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority to play at the stadium it has called home since 1968.

The Chronicle said the Raiders had been working on a new deal to play at the Coliseum in 2019, and possibly the following campaign if its Las Vegas stadium isn’t ready in time. The contract would reportedly net the city and county $3.7m next year and $5m in 2020, but Coliseum Authority executive director Scott McKibben said team executives have warned him the deal won’t be signed if the lawsuit is filed. “They told me we might as well take the contract and rip it up,” McKibben said.

The Chronicle said Oakland’s decision to sue was made within the past week without the approval of either the Coliseum directors or the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum board member Ignacio De La Fuente warned the action could leave the city open to a countersuit from the Raiders.

“It makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “I think the Mayor (Libby Schaaf) and the City Council really are just looking to justify themselves for not having done anything to retain (NBA team) the Warriors — and (MLB franchise) the A’s, for that matter.”

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said that while he personally supports the suit, the county is unlikely to join it. Miley stated the county still hopes to sell its half-interest in the Coliseum site to the city, and any “lawsuit might prolong our entanglement with the sport team.”

Regarding the suit, he added: “I think there’s a greater upside to the city pursuing this… and they are in a good position to force the NFL to come back with damages as a result of the decision to move the Raiders to Las Vegas.”

Image: Louis Briscese