OAKLAND RAIDERS RAP
A Sacramento Superior Court judge has upheld his ruling that the Raiders must play in Oakland through the 2010 season, but he said the team can proceed with a jury trial to seek damages against the city and county.
Judge Joe S. Gray reportedly sent his 42-page ruling to attorneys on March 8, 2000. The trial isn't expected to start until early next year.
The two sides put positive spins on Gray's latest ruling.
Raiders attorney Ken Hausman said the team plans to file a complaint for $850 million -- to recover lost profits from sagging ticket sales and declining value of the NFL franchise. The Raiders claim they have lost $25 million per year since the team returned to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995.
Jeffrey Kelser, an attorney representing the city of Oakland and Alameda County, contends Gray's ruling validates the team's 16-year lease to play at Network Associates Coliseum. "We don't think they're going to get any money out of this lawsuit," Kelser told reporters.
Oakland and Alameda County sued the Raiders in September 1997 to honor the remaining time on their lease at the Coliseum. The team countersued in July 1998, claiming the lease is invalid because sellouts were falsely promised before the agreement was signed. City and county officials claim no such assurances were made.
Al Davis, the Raiders managing general partner, said in court papers, "I was conned. I trusted these people and they did quite a job on me."
Davis acknowledged in a press conference at an NFL owners meeting on March 17, 1999 that the guarantee for sellouts wasn't included in the lease agreement. He said at the time that city and county officials pledged sellouts in press releases and statements.
There are also no guarantees of sellouts in the contract with the Raiders and Coliseum, attorneys claim.
In his tentative ruling on Feb. 18, 2000, Gray said the Raiders "unreasonably delayed" before trying to recind their lease. The judge said the Raiders also failed to exercise a contract provision calling for them to seek to resolve the dispute before requesting recission.
"The Raiders were aware of the existance of the alleged fraud before the end of the 1995 season...Notice of recission should have been given promptly thereafter," Gray said in his ruling.
The deal to return the Raiders from Los Angeles reportedly has cost the city and county $200 million (for stadium renovations and relocation payments to the team). Because of poor ticket sales, East Bay taxpayers have paid $82 million to bail out the Coliseum complex over the past three years. The public is expected to pay an additional $16 million a year for the next 25 years.