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Just Litigate, Baby

The outcome of two trials in the coming months could determine the future home of the Raiders.

The team and the National Football League went to trial in Los Angeles on March 7, 2001. The Raiders are suing for over $1 billion, claiming the league owes them money for losing the Los Angeles market. They also allege the league interfered with their plan to build a proposed stadium in suburban Inglewood in 1995. The Raiders played at the L.A. Coliseum from 1982 to 1994.

The trial is expected to last up to eight weeks.

The Raiders also have ongoing litigation against Oakland and Alameda County. The team is asking for $1.1 billion in damages. A trial setting-hearing is scheduled for Aug. 6, 2001.

Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since 1995, when the Rams moved from Anaheim to St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland. If the Raiders win their case against the NFL, the league could offer a settlement that would grant the team the Los Angeles market. The Raiders reportedly paid the NFL about $18 million for moving from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982.

If the Raiders prevail against Oakland and Alameda County, the team could negotiate a settlement to be freed from its lease at Network Associates Coliseum (which runs through 2010) in lieu of receiving monetary damages. In March 2000, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Joe S. Gray ruled the Raiders must honor their lease in Oakland, but he also allowed the team to pursue damages against the city and county.

Oakland and Alameda County sued the Raiders in September 1997 to honor the remaining time on their lease at Network Associates Coliseum. The team countersued in July 1998, claiming the 16-year lease is invalid because sellouts were falsely promised before the agreement was signed.

The Raiders ranked 26th in 2000 NFL attendance. Only three of eight regular-season home games were announced sellouts. Since 1996 when the Coliseum capacity was increased from 54,444 to 60,750, the team has had only seven sellouts.

Published: 3-14-2001


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