According to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Board Member Chris Dobbins, and on Zennie62 YouTube Live on Wednesday night, June 6th (the City of Oakland will not only file a lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders and the National Football League for not acting in good faith in the process leading to the league’s approval of the Las Vegas Relocation, but has the help of newly-reelected U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
Chris told my livestream audience the news at after my interview with Las Vegas Review Journal Reporter Rick Velotta on the Raiders Relocation issue, and the changing economy of Las Vegas. I called him to follow up on a tip I received two nights before from a third source who claimed that the City of Oakland was going to file a lawsuit with the Raiders and the NFL, but the source refused to give details or say who told him, so I didn’t report it.
Upon hearing me say that, Chris said “Yeah. There’s big news. I saw Noel Gallo (the Oakland District Five Councilmember) with his beautiful wife at the Warriors Watch Party and he said Oakland was going to file the lawsuit against the Raiders. They’re just getting paper work together, but it should be next week. They also have the help of (U.S. Congresswoman) Barbara Lee.
A tweet was sent out announcing that news and tagging Congresswoman Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Twitter accounts. In the coming days, this space expects to get more information. That said, Dobbins went on the record, and pointed to Oakland Councilmember Gallo as his source. The District Five Councilmember Gallo was the first of today’s Oakland elected officials to take a definitive stance and call for a lawsuit to be filed, last year. The Oakland Coliseum JPA would eventually reject that request; this time the City of Oakland, encouraged by a group of accomplished lawyers who offered to take on the City’s case against the Raiders and the NFL on contingency, responded affirmatively to the proposal, and have operated (for the most part) in secret while fashioning the legal attack with the law group.
As to what form the lawsuit will take, this is where the media always screws up the story, chosing to jump to the conclusion of what the City’s “ask” in damages would be for, then assuming the lawsuit will be for the Raiders name and colors. If you read that take, it’s both ignorant and wrongheaded, and burries the lead of the story, let alone ignores the simple question: why?
The answer to “why” the lawsuit was given, in part by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, to this author Zennie Abraham, at the NFL Spring League Meeting of 2016 in Charlotte. In this video, below, Goodell placed part of the blame for why the Raiders didn’t have a new stadium project in Oakland on the Raiders themselves. “It’s not fair to shift all of the blame (for not having a new stadium in Oakland) on the Raiders, Goodell said, “they bare some.”
The comment “they bare some” blame leads to the other question of what that means. From the City of Oakland’s standpoint, it means lack of good faith dealing. In other words, the City of Oakland discovered it couldn’t trust the Raiders, but after the fact. As Oakland District Seven Councilmember and Coliseum JPA Board President Larry Reid has told me more than once, “They lied to us, and told us that we were to wait for the outcome of the ‘LA vote’ in Houston (on January 16th, 2016), and then they were to hire a stadium point person (which they did at the time, during the next month of February, Larry McNeil)” Reid told me the Raiders wanted to wait until April 2016 to wrap up negotiations on a new lease and start talks on a new stadium.
But, unknown to Reid and the Coliseum JPA, and Oakland Officials, the Raiders Owner Mark Davis had already taken meetings with Las Vegas Sands Founder and CEO Sheldon Adelson. According to a January 28th 2016 memo from then University of Nevada Las Vegas President Len Jessup that was received by then-KSNV-TV Las Vegas Digital Executive Producer Aubrey Clerkin. This is what the first three paragraphs of the UNLV Clerkin Document reads:
I have been notified that the Las Vegas Sands plans to publicly announce its support for a new special events stadium in Southern Nevada and they believe the 42 acres of land on Tropicana Avenue that UNLV recently purchased is a prime location….Correspondingly, the Sands leadership team let us know that officials from the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to travel to Las Vegas and tour locations around the valley for a potential new home and they have asked us to meet them at our 42‐acre site on Friday morning to answer questions about that site.
As I explained in my video blog from March 28th 2017…
“The Oakland Raiders eventually signed the Oakland Coliseum Lease Extension April 7, 2016 – the date after which Mark Davis claimed “we had to start looking elsewhere to see if we could find a long-term solution” during his speech at the NFL Annual Meeting after the Raiders were granted the right to relocate to Las Vegas on March 26th, 2017. Here:
In other words, the Oakland Raiders had already decided that their “long-term solution” was not in Oakland, but in Las Vegas, and did so at least four months before Mark Davis signed the Oakland Coliseum Lease Extension – as was known at the time.
“Las Vegas political blogger John Ralston wrote a post entitled “Sands to partner with UNLV on stadium, hope to bring Raiders here” and based on the Clerkin Document. The only other media publication to find the Clerkin Document was the blog Deadspin.”
Thus, the news that the Raiders were seeking a new home outside of Oakland was not at all widely known and certainly not by the City of Oakland, yet four months later Davis signed the lease extention, then claimed that the Raiders “ decided we had to start looking elsewhere to see if we could find a long-term solution”. “
To read the account by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr called “Sin City Or Bust How Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis — with a little luck, his own brand of genius and an assist from Jerry Jones — outflanked power brokers to put the Raiders in Las Vegas,” Davis made the decision to pursue a new stadium in Las Vegas not in 2016, but as far back as July 2014, at Dan Tana’s Italian Restaurant in West Hollywood. ESPN reported that Davis and Team President Marc Badain met NFL Executive Vice President and head of NFL Ventures Eric Grubman, and over Chicken Parm, had this exchange:
Grubman, the league’s longtime point man on stadium financing, says, “Mark, we gotta come up with a plan for you.”
“I’m going to Vegas, baby!” Davis says.
Grubman laughs. Davis doesn’t.
“You’re nuts,” Grubman says.
“No, it’s a good market,” Davis says.
“Mark,” Grubman says, “you’ll never get approved to Las Vegas.”
“They’ll oppose it on principle,” Grubman says, like a parent explaining the real world to a child. “It’s not gonna happen.”
Another ESPN account called “How the Raiders got comfortable with sports betting”, and by David Purdum, reports that, in an effort to determine the Raiders prospects for profiting from sports betting in Las Vegas, he called for what ESPN describes as a Feb. 23, 2015 meeting that was “kept secret for three years.” The meeting was formed by Las Vegas Sands Corp representative and Raiders Legend Napoleon McCallum, and was between UNLV officials like former President Don Snyder, and Bo Bernhard, who’s title was executive director of the International Gaming Institute.
It was Mr. Bernhard’s presentation of how gambling could provide the revenue soluton the NFL sought, and with the appropriate safeguards in place to guarantee the integrity of the game. Already, according to the Purdum article, Davis was not exclusively focused on Oakland as the Raiders future home. “There were many other suitors, too,” Purdum wrote,”San Antonio was interested; so was Sacramento. Casual inquiries came from Calgary and Mexico.”
Oakland had no idea, and on top of that, the Raiders played another game within that game in the subject of Carson. In 2015, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf had no idea of the Raiders interest in moving to Carson, and swore to me, when I presented her with the information on May 17th 2015 (and just before the NFL Spring League Meeting in San Francisco), that it was wrong. So, to prove to her I wasn’t, the very next day, I asked Davis, on camera, why he was working behind Mayor Schaaf’s back.
That same week and after the NFL Spring League Meeting, Mr. Badain would later fly down to Carson to present that city’s mayor with a Raiders lapel pin. That was the beginning of the end of the good relationship Mayor Schaaf had with the Oakland Raiders.
A History Of Bad Faith Actions
From the collective perspective of many Oakland and Alameda County Officials, the Oakland Raiders under Mark Davis watch have, for them, added up to a history of bad faith actions. Add to that, a fan base divided and upset with the in-your-face way Davis handled the Las Vegas Relocation effort (with Don Webb saying in a September 21, 2017 speech in Las Vegas that the Raiders planed to dump its existing fan base for a different one in Sin City that’s more “family friendly.”), and lawyers who want to take up the effort of a lawsuit on their own dime, and not the City of Oakland’s, and you have the perfect climate for the filing of a said suit. What kind of damage award may come out of a successful suit is taking the cart before the horse: what the Raiders are alleged to have done must be understood, first.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media