The Oakland City Council is moving forward on a multi-million dollar antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and the Raiders over the team’s upcoming move to Las Vegas, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday.
The lawsuit may actually result in the Raiders leaving Oakland at the end of this season, too — a full year earlier than they had planned. Oakland city councilman Noel Gallo told the San Francisco Chronicle that the city could win up to $500 million in damages, which would be used in part to pay off the remaining debt on the Oakland Alameda Coliseum.
The lawsuit is expected to be officially announced in the next several days.
The Raiders are currently under a year-to-year lease with the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority at their current stadium, which they share with the Oakland Athletics. Director Scott McKibben has been working to finalize one last lease extension with the Raiders for next season, however he said that Raiders executives warned him that they will not sign anything if the suit is filed — which could result in the team leaving earlier than planned.
“They told me we might as well take the contract and rip it up,” McKibben told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Oakland and Alameda County reportedly still have a $75 million bond debt from when they renovated the stadium to bring the Raiders back from Los Angeles in the mid-1990s. The Golden State Warriors, who are preparing to move from Oakland to a new arena in downtown San Francisco, are reportedly in a battle with Alameda County over who should pay the debt from the renovations at Oracle Arena, too.
If the Raiders stay in the city next season — and potentially the year after that, if the new stadium in Las Vegas isn’t complete — Oakland would earn nearly $9 million.
The Raiders filed paperwork to officially relocate to Las Vegas last January. A $2 billion stadium is currently being built just off the Las Vegas Strip, and is expected to be ready for the 2020 season.
Where would the Raiders play next season if they leave Oakland early?
If the lawsuit goes forward and the Raiders decide to leave Oakland next season, finding a stadium suited to host the NFL franchise could be difficult on such short notice.
If they decide to relocate to Las Vegas a year early, they could play at Sam Boyd Stadium — which plays host to UNLV.
That stadium, which was built in 1971 and renovated in 1999, has a maximum capacity of just more than 40,000 — which would make it the second-smallest NFL stadium in the country. The Raiders would likely have to pay for, at the very least, some minor renovations at Sam Boyd Stadium to make it fit to host NFL games.
Playing at a college stadium for a season can be done, though. Before the Minnesota Vikings moved to their new U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016, they played at TCF Bank Stadium — on the campus of the University of Minnesota — for two full seasons. The team paid for minor upgrades in the stadium, including temporary seating to increase the stadium’s capacity and a new playing surface.
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