Where the Raiders play football in 2019 just got a whole lot murkier.
As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the city of Oakland filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, accusing the Raiders and NFL of an illegal practice by moving the team to Las Vegas, and seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
The lawsuit claims that the NFL and each of its 32 teams are operating like a cartel, demanding that cities pony up public funds to build new stadiums or risk losing their teams.
Via the Chronicle:
“The city says league officials negotiated in bad faith and did not give serious consideration to its counter-offer to build a new stadium using a mix of public and private funds. The 45-page complaint alleges that a $378 million relocation fee paid by the Raiders enriched the 31 other clubs and thus “skewed the bidding process.
“The suit notes that Raiders owner Mark Davis was among the beneficiaries of relocation fees paid by the Rams and Chargers and alleges that none of the money actually goes toward relocation-related expenses.”
“The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill,” City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement. “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 September, the city council voted to approve the antitrust lawsuit, which led to reports that the Raiders are planning to leave Oakland next season, even though their new home in Vegas is not scheduled for completion until 2020. The Raiders’ lease at the Coliseum ends at the conclusion of this season.
“Emotionally, I would say, why would I give them $3 (million), $4 (million), $5 million in rent that they’re going to turn around and use to sue me?” Davis said to ESPN regarding staying in Oakland. “But, at the same time, if they’ll have us, I can’t turn on the fans. I can’t do it. And this is terrible negotiating I’m doing now. I’m going to get killed. But that’s just the way I am. But, if in fact it does get ugly, and can’t be bridged, we do have options.”
It’s unclear exactly what those options are, but Raiders beat writer Paul Gutierrez believes the team has a number of choices.
While the #Raiders don’t have a home for 2019, they would like to stay in Oakland. But if the lawsuit makes that impossible, expect San Diego and Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium to become clubhouse leaders but don’t discount an early move to Las Vegas or even…Reno. Yes, Reno.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) December 11, 2018