Supreme Court Will Not Review Oakland’s Case Against the NFL



On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review the City of Oakland’s antitrust case against the National Football League (NFL). By the Supreme Court declining to intervene, the city’s chances to recover damages for the Raiders’ 2017 relocation to Las Vegas are minimal. Additionally, the case sets a bad precedent for the city if another team decides to leave.


The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995 after spending over ten years in Los Angeles. Upon return to Oakland, the city leased the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum to the Raiders with an original term of sixteen years, which the parties eventually extended in 2009 and 2014.


As the Coliseum began lagging behind other NFL facilities, the city began negotiating with the Raiders to find a solution that would keep the Raiders in Oakland, including proposing to donate the land to the Raiders in 2014, proposing a $500 million renovation in 2015, and proposing building a new $1.3 billion stadium in 2016.


In 2017, the Raiders applied to the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas, which thirty-one teams approved—the Miami Dolphins being the lone holdout.


In 2018, the Raiders filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleging Sherman Antitrust Act violations via horizontal price-fixing and a group boycott, and over $240 million in damages. Specifically, the league engaged in a group boycott by refusing to deal with the city by removing a team and not granting the city an expansion franchise and engaged in a horizontal price-fixing scheme by limiting the number of NFL teams—driving up the price of having an NFL team.


The District Court dismissed the antitrust claims are “too speculative to confer antitrust standing.” After appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Circuit Court upheld the District Court’s ruling.


In a last-ditch effort, the city appealed to the Supreme Court, which the Supreme Court declined to review on Monday, leaving the city out of options.


The ruling is another sting for a city that has watched multiple teams leave. Beyond the Raiders heading to Las Vegas, the Golden State Warriors left in 2019 for a new home in San Francisco. Currently, the city and the Oakland Athletics are negotiating over a new baseball stadium, which would be located at Jack London Square. However, the city and the A’s have yet to reach a deal, and it is becoming increasingly likely that the A’s will join the Raiders in Las Vegas.


With the A’s possibly leaving for Las Vegas, the ruling on the city’s antitrust claims sets a bad precedent. Thus, the city will likely have to look at other options for recovering damages if the A’s leave.


In the end, the losses keep piling up for the city, and another team may leave soon.


Landis Barber is an attorney at Safran Law Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can connect with him via LinkedIn or via his blog offthecourtdocket.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Landisbarber.