Oakland Raiders Revive Claims That Andersen Destroyed Evidence

Oakland Raiders lawyers have revived claims that accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLC destroyed evidence that could prove it lied in 1995 when it assured the team of sellouts at the Oakland Coliseum.

Revelations that Andersen destroyed documents of bankrupt client Enron Corp., and Congressional investigations into the company, have "refocused us on this issue," Raiders attorney Ken Hausman told the Contra Costa Times.

The Coliseum hired Andersen in 1995 to track applications for 10-year personal seat licenses at Raider games. The project was the centerpiece of the San Francisco Bay Area's attempts to bring the Raiders back to Oakland from Los Angeles.

The football team sued in 1998 for $1.1 billion, claiming Raiders boss Al Davis was assured of stadium sellouts by Andersen representatives and by Coliseum and city officials.

Raiders management claims that perennially poor attendance at home games has crippled the team financially. Last year, only 24,000 of a total 55,000 personal seat licenses were sold. Less than half of the 143 lucrative luxury suites were taken.

The lawsuit insists Davis never would have returned the team had he known the stadium had not sold out, and that Andersen helped Coliseum officials conceal information.

The particular claim was thrown out of court for technical reasons but could be revived if the rest of the case goes to trial later this year.

Calls to the Raiders for comment Saturday were not immediately returned.

Andersen denies the allegations. Attorney Frederick S. Fields represents Andersen in the Raiders case and said the company has evidence that all relevant documents were delivered to the Oakland Football Marketing Association as promised. The OFMA is a joint ticket selling venture of the Raiders, the city of Oakland and Alameda County.