A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the Raiders must share stadium revenues with 31 other NFL teams under the league's revenue-sharing rules. Judge Richard Hubbell issued a tentative ruling on June 3, 2002.
Hubbell's decision was the final part of two phases in a lawsuit from 2001. A jury ruled last year that the Raiders didn't own the Los Angeles market and that the league didn't interfere with the team's negotiations to build a stadium at Hollywood Park race track in Inglewood, Calif., in the mid-1990s.
The remaining issue was heard in a brief non-jury trial in April. The NFL claimed that personal seat license money paid by fans for the right to buy Raiders season tickets since 1995 must be shared with the league. The Raiders argued that since the team's 1995 agreement with Oakland and Alameda County assigned the license money to public agencies to cover the cost of renovating Network Associates Coliseum, the money didn't need to be shared.
But Hubbell agreed with the NFL that PSLs are subject to the league's revenue-sharing rules, regardless of who collects them. The judge's ruling also means that revenues generated from club seat premiums, ticket surcharges and maintenance fees also must be shared with the league.
"We are pleased that Judge Hubbell confirmed that the Raiders have the same obligation to share revenues as do the 31 other clubs," the league said in a written statement.
Larry Feldman, an attorney for the Raiders, told reporters in Los Angeles: "The Raiders do not believe that the team owes anything. The issue was whether or not the loan that Oakland made to the Raiders was shareable, a $64 million issue. That was a major issue that the Raiders were concerned about."
The team reportedly has a 15-day window to decide whether it wants another hearing with Hubbell in an attempt to change the judge's mind. The Raiders also can file an appeal with a higher court.
If Hubbell's decision is upheld, the financial impact is complicated by the league's practice of allowing teams to keep license money if the funds are invested in stadium construction. The license money in Oakland reportedly was to have covered the cost of both $100 million in stadium construction and $63.9 million in "loans" to the Raiders from the city and county. The team legally isn't required to repay the loans.
Construction costs at Network Associates Coliseum have exceeded $130 million, and Alameda County taxpayers have had to cover the costs because PSL revenue has fallen short of original estimates. The Raiders contend that the "loan" money came from taxpayers, not fans, and the league has no claim to such public gifts.
Since 1970, the NFL has required home teams to share revenue from ticket sales and other gross receipts with the rest of the league. The visiting team share currently is 34 percent of all revenues generated from gross receipts at an NFL game.