by Jonathan Stempel | Reuters
The National Football League on Thursday defeated an antitrust appeal by the City of Oakland over a 2017 decision by the Raiders football team to move to Las Vegas.
By a 3–0 vote, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected Oakland’s claims that the league refused to expand beyond 32 teams, and decided to charge the Raiders a $378 million relocation fee, interfered with the competition.
Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima found a lot of “speculative links” between the league’s conduct and Oakland’s alleged injuries, noting that the Raiders would have left Oakland anyway or City would have pursued another team.
“Although the city has alleged injury of antitrust, it has not charged with sufficient certainty that … the attackers may have been in Oakland, and under what conditions, in a hypothetical competitive market,” Tashima wrote.
Lawyers for Oakland, the Raiders and the NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Another 31 teams in the league were also defendants.
Oakland sued the NFL in December 2018, accusing the league of operating as a “cartel” that made it particularly expensive for cities to host teams.
While Oakland did not seek the Raiders’ return, it did ask for more than $240 million, representing the sums invested in the team’s hopes of staying, as well as lost tax revenue and a reduction in the value of the Oakland Coliseum, where the team played.
The Raiders now play at Allegiant Stadium, a $1.9 billion facility that opened last year. Thursday’s ruling upheld the April 2020 ruling of US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero.
The case is City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders et al, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-16075. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Bill Burcrot)