The city of Oakland announced Tuesday that it would file a federal antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL, over the franchise's planned move to Las Vegas in 2020.
And the quotes from the lawyers, sent in the city's press release, are something else.
From Oakland city attorney Barbara J. Parker: “The defendants brazenly violated federal antitrust law and the league’s own policies when they boycotted Oakland as a host city. 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.”
From Jim Quinn, the lead attorney from Berg & Androphy, one firm assisting the city in the lawsuit: “The NFL has a long history of misusing its tremendous market power in violation of antitrust laws. This time the NFL defendants violated their own bylaws in their effort to cash in on the Raiders’ move. Oakland is standing up to this unlawful and disloyal treatment by the league owners.”
From Clifford Pearson, lead attorney from Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP: “The NFL supposedly has objective rules about team location which were completely ignored. 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.”
If you want to know the city's legal rationale behind the lawsuit -- which doesn't seek to stop the Raiders from moving, by the way -- these three fiery-tongued paragraphs from the press release will cover it:
For years, the NFL defendants – a carefully limited number of football clubs – have been recognized as a “cartel” in the marketplace for professional football. In 1984, a California federal court affirmed that the NFL defendants had misused their cartel power in determining when an NFL team may move to a new city. In response, the NFL adopted, and the NFL defendants agreed to follow, express “relocation policies” to guide future team moves. These policies focus on issues like population, economic projections, facilities, regional balance and fan loyalty in making relocation determinations. The relocation policies expressly favor host cities like Oakland in any relocation determination.
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.” In the last several years, the NFL defendants have shared approximately $1.47 billion in these fees. The Raiders alone have agreed to pay over $370 million to the other NFL defendants for their “yes” vote on the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.
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.
Break-ups always are hard. But this one is becoming ugly fast, and you have to wonder if this kick-started war of words will cause the Raiders to leave Oakland one year early, as they said they would if sued.