Mayor Schaaf Announces Plan To Take Oakland Raiders By Eminent Domain (LS)
The City of Oakland will file an injunction in Alameda County Superior Court to stop the Raiders move to Las Vegas in its tracks.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf elected to take advantage of change in the legal climate around the historic City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders California Supreme Court Case, and file a new lawsuit with the intent of taking the NFL team via emiment domain, thus preventing a move to Las Vegas and working to recover outstanding bond debt associated with the Raiders, and totalling $167 million.
On Monday of this week, at the National Football League Annual Meeting in Phoenix, the NFL Owners voted 31 – 1 to permit Raiders Owner Mark Davis permission to move the storied franchise to Las Vegas from Oakland. Many, including Mayor Schaaf and this blogger, believe Mr. Davis’ stated reasons for wanting to relocate the team were essentially manufactured, and without basis in fact. Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross has said to the media that the NFL did not have standing to allow the Raiders to relocate – a reference to the NFL Relocation Bylaws stating that the host community has to show that it’s made plans to build a new stadium. Oakland has done that.
Rather than fool around with the media, Mayor Schaaf deciced to take advantage of major changes in the legal climate around the City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders original emiment domain case, and attack the Raiders and avenge the work of our late mentor, Alameda County Counsel Richard Winnie. Her reasons are as follows:
1. Whereas in the original case, the City of Oakland worked to take the Raiders via emiment domain only to prevent the move to L.A. in 1982, the 1995 return of the Raiders to Oakland, and the $201 million in bonds issued to reform the Oakland Coliseum to accommodate the NFL team, caused a new and still unpaid bond debt that must be recovered. While some contend that the Raiders are not responsible for the repayment of the bond debt, the bond documents associated with the deal all state that the issues were created specifically for the relocation of the Raiders from Los Angeles to Oakland – regardless of bond payment responsibility. Thus, without the Raiders desire to change venues, there would have been no need for a bond issue of any kind. So, the Raiders have to take some responsibility for paying off the bonds it supported the creation of for the task of changing the Oakland Coliseum for its return to the Bay Area. Since the football organization has shown no williness to do that, an emiment domain action is the only logical course of action to take.
2. The California Supreme Court ruled that Oakland could take the Raiders by emiment domain but had to prove what kind of “public purpose” was served. In the original Raiders case, the City rested its argument on one of recreation; this time the reason is a purely economic one that’s directly tied to the NFL football organization: the payment of bond debt without using more taxpayer dollars and the recovery of what has become an economic asset. That has to be explained. Since 1982, the increase in professional sports stadium construction costs has caused the need for “mixed use developments” to be planned as part of a stadium development. The most recent example of this in California is the new Inglewood stadium for the recently relocated to L.A. Rams – that facility will have more than just the stadium, and include a movie complex, dwelling units, retail and restaurants. The new Atlanta Braves Stadium in Cobb County, Georgia is also noted for being a “mixed use development”. This is also the case for the land around Levi Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play football in Santa Clara County, California. In short, in the 21st Century football organizations have become anchor tenants in new shopping centers – without them, the facilties can’t perform well economically or fiscally.
3. The City of Oakland and Alameda County’s plan for the new Oakland Raiders stadium also called for the NFL team to be in what would be yet another mixed use development. The attractiveness of that plan is severely diminished when the Raiders are allowed to leave Oakland.
When the Supreme Court sent the Raiders case back to the appellate court in 1983, the Raiders came up with the argument that stopping the team from moving to what was believed to be a better economic environment in Los Angeles was against the United States Commerce Clause permitting the ‘free flow of commerce’ . The appeals court bought what was then considered to be a novel argument hook, line, and sinker – and did so without any real analysis of market data. It was just assumed that Los Angeles was better than Oakland and the SF Bay Area at the time.
But this situtation with Las Vegas is entirely different, and exists at a time when, as a society, we have finger-tip access to market data. Thus, everyone, and certainly every Oakland Raiders fan, knows that not only is the San Francisco Bay Area far richer economically than Los Angeles (according to a Bloomberg study released in 2016), it’s many times wealthier than the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area.
Additionally, because of the SF Bay Area’s vast wealth, and Oakland’s position at its geographic center, the NFL itself can’t make the argument that stopping the Raiders relocation to Las Vegas interrupts the free flow of commerce. Indeed, it strengthens the argument for taking the Raiders via eminent domain: the finding would be that the current Raiders management has proven itself not capable of establishing lucrative business deals in the tech-rich SF Bay Area, and should be taken by the City of Oakland to allow such relationships to be established.
Right now, this is all one big Lirpa Sloof (LS) – but its a very real possibility and based on research I have conducted and cases I’ve followed since the Raiders left Oakland for Los Angeles and then returned.
Finally, this case also has the additional element of the more-than-one time the organization has allegedly not operated in good faith. The damage remedy from those violation of California law could be combined with the emiment domain action.