NFL, Raiders Defeat $240M Antitrust Appeal By City of Oakland

The National Football League defeated an antitrust appeal by the city of Oakland, California Thursday over the lawfulness of the Raiders football team’s move to Las Vegas in 2017.

Las Vegas RaidersPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected Oakland’s claims by a 3-0 vote, finding that the NFL’s refusal to expand beyond 32 teams and its decision to charge the Raiders a fee of $378 million for relocation, interfered with competition.

Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima identified too many “speculative links” between Oakland’s alleged injuries and the league’s conduct, noting that the Raiders might have left Oakland anyway or the city might have pursued another team.

“Although the city has alleged antitrust injury, it has not alleged with sufficient certainty that … the Raiders would have stayed in Oakland, and under what terms, in a hypothetical competitive market,” Tashima wrote.

The city of Oakland originally sued the league in December of 2018, listing the league’s 31 other teams as defendants. The suit alleged the league of operates as a “cartel” that has made it exorbitantly expensive for cities, specifically those with smaller markets, to host teams.

Oakland did not demand as part of their suit that the team return to play in the Oakland Coliseum, but did seek more than $240 million from the league. These totals were said to represent the sums invested by the city with the expectation the team would not leave, in addition to lost tax revenue and the reduction in the value of the now football teamless stadium.

Thursday’s decision upholds an April 2020 ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero.

The Oakland Raiders franchise joined the American Football League (AFL) as its sixth team in 1960, however the league merged with the NFL in 1966. Oakland was the home of the Raiders from their inception in 1960 up until 1981, and again from 1995 until the decision to relocate to Las Vegas. The team also played as the Los Angeles Raiders for a short stint from 1982 to 1994, making the City of Angels their home.

Allegiant Stadium, a $1.9 billion facility that opened last year in metropolitan Las Vegas is the current home for the Raiders.

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