The Oakland Raiders, NFL owners and other league officials formed an illegal “cartel” and violated federal antitrust laws and California laws by attempting to move the franchise to Las Vegas in 2020, a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the city of Oakland claims.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, seeks lost revenue, money Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders and other costs. The suit is asking for damages that will help pay for about $80 million in debt remaining from renovations on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
“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 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.”
According to Sports Illustrated, the city argues that the Raiders and the league conspired to hurt the city to “secure illegitimate profits.” The city reportedly alleges the Raiders paid $378 million to the other franchises as part of a relocation fee that was essentially a bribe for other owners to vote yes on the team’s planned relocation to Las Vegas.
“The NFL, indeed, was more than a business: it was an unlawful cartel violating its own Relocation Policies and abusing its complete control of the relevant market in the pursuit of anticompetitive payments,” the lawsuit states, according to Yahoo Sports.
Raiders owner Mark Davis dismissed the lawsuit at “meritless and malicious” in an interview with ESPN, adding that he would allow his attorneys to make further comments on the matter.
The suit puts the Raiders’ 2019 home in jeopardy. Team president Marc Badain said Wednesday the franchise pulled a $7.5 million offer to the city for use of the Coliseum for next year.
San Diego, Santa Clara, San Antonio and some place in Nevada were all mentioned as possibilities for next year's Raiders home, according to Pro Football Talk.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.