This blogger was personally informed today that The City of Oakland is still working with famed sports lawyer Jim Quinn on the paperwork associated with filing a lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders and the National Football League.
A source too close to the matter to mention (and not with or part of any Oakland Raiders fan group) explained that “Jim Quinn, the lawyer from Berg & Androphy is working with other lawyers on the paperwork.” As to the question of what the lawsuit will be focused on, the possible argument is that the NFL’s relocation fee amounts to what is called “disgorgement.” One thing is clear, the City of Oakland doesn’t have to spend a dime on the lawsuit this time around – Quinn and company are reportedly taking the case on a contingency basis.
Mr. Quinn responded by email: “We are still in the process of finalizing and waiting for the City’s final approval.”
According to a letter distributed by Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan on April 13th of this year, and from Mr. Quinn,“disgorgement” is said to be “a remedy where the plaintiff seeks to recover profits reaped by the defendants from their unlawful conduct.”
The request for compensation would focus on the $370 million relocation fee that the Oakland Raiders will owe the National Football League for the Las Vegas Relocation. In that, this would not be the first “relocation fee” the Raiders has to pay the NFL – that would be the $64 million “non-recourse loan” that was poid by the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda (which later formed the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum’s then-new joint powers authority in 1995).
That so-called “non-recourse loan” was determined by the California Court Of Appeals to have not been that, and because the NFL Bylaws and Constitution was written such that what was givne to the Raiders was a payment and not a loan. That’s because the Raiders attempted to have that payment not considered a revenue enrichment. The California courts disagreed, stating the NFL Bylaws and Constitution did not allow for such financial discrmination. (See: California Supreme Court: The OAKLAND RAIDERS, Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Appellant, v. NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, Defendant, Cross-complainant and Appellant; Paul Tagliabue et al., Defendants and Respondents. 61 Cal. Rptr. 3D 634 (2007), 41 Cal. 4Th 624, 161 P.3d 151.)
That matter is important, because the financial documents from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority explained as recently as in the June 30th 2016 Financial Report “As discussed in Note 4 to the basic financial statemen ts, the Authority has loans receivable from the Oakland Raiders in the amount of $155,562,629 as of June 30, 2016. These loans have increased in the amount of $6,890,325 in fiscal year 2016 and have increased a total of $92,366,439 since the inception of these loans in fiscal year 1996. The Authority has not adopted a methodology for reviewing the collectability of Raiders loans receivable reported in the governmental activities and the major special revenue fund and, accordingly, has not considered the need to provide an allowance for uncollectible amounts. The Authority has not evaluated the recoverability of these loans through the maturity date in fiscal year 2036.”
In other words, this so called “non-recourse loan” is not that, and from my estimation as a former City of Oakland official charged by Mayor Elihu Harris to play watch-dog on Raiders-related issues, given the court’s decision, it looks more like the forerunner to the modern NFL relocation fee. By my estimate, that so-called $64 million loan to the Oakland Raiders to move from Los Angeles, that’s really a payment to the NFL, is now worth $218 million.
Moreover, when this blogger was (again) the new Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, Ezra Rapport, then the City of Oakland’s Assistant City Manager, and now Executive Director of the Association of the Bay Area Governments, specifically noted to me that the way the “loan” was paid back by the Raiders was via their remaining a tenant at the Coliseum. This was discussed as part of a meeting with myself, and two other Oakland City Council staffers in 1996, and because Rapport said “I want you all to know the Raiders documents because no one else cares.”
As one East Bay public official admitted to me on one occasion when we talked about the loan, and why previous Oakland Coliseum JPA administrations failed to do anything about having a way to collect on the loan, let alone reviewing the decisions of the court, that person said, “Zennie, the truth is we just plain fucked up.”
From this blogger’s position, the fault lay with the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda, not just the Oakland Coliseum JPA. After all, the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda formed the terms by which the loan payment was to be given – to get the Raiders back to Oakland. But the same entities failed to do any collective, reported follow-up on the matter, even as the Oakland Raiders were weaving in and out of court. That problem of lack meaningful of follow-up exists to this day, as of this writing. The City and the County have not had a public hearing on the matter; and no publicly known investigation and update has been done beyond the brief financial report statement.
At this point, there’s a lot of uncertainty that’s really came both directly and indirectly out of the “we just plain fucked up” past work of the Coliseum JPA after the Raiders return: can that $218 million be recovered by the City of Oakland? When will the City of Oakland brief the Coliseum JPA on its lawsuit work, because a number of sources associated with the Coliseum JPA say they don’t know anything. If the Raiders get wind of a lawsuit filing, will they stop the so-far-successful negotiations in obtaining a Coliseum lease extention to 2020?
(Sorry, the Las Vegas Stadium will not be ready for occupancy by the first regular-season game of the 2020 NFL Season, regardless of what anyone associated with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority says. The most recent public meeting on Las Vegas Stadium construction brought out this information posted by the Las Vegas Sun: that “substantial completion” would be done by July 2020.
At today’s meeting an updated project schedule was shown. Currently in the Elevated concrete structure phase. Next up is steel erection in July. Jason Howard, pre-construction director said the site ‘will really resemble a stadium in the next few months.’ #vegas #raiders #stadium pic.twitter.com/MadQLYGZsp
— Mick Akers (@mickakers) June 21, 2018
Originally, that was to be the completion date, and then there was a “three month move in period.” Prior to that, the completion date was June 2020. Now, Las Vegas Stadium Authority documents peg the desired completion date in the second week of August of 2020, so the “three month move in period” would push back the actual, safe, stadium use month to October 2020.)
Will the Coliseum JPA take this new information up in their closed session special meeting on the Oakland Raiders lease Thursday morning? When the lawsuit is filed ( as I was told today, not “if”), will the Raiders punt from the Coliseum lease extension, or will they have signed it too late, only to watch the City of Oakland sue the NFL and them, anyway? Will a lawsuit block Oakland from getting an NFL team again, or could the court force the NFL to give Oakland an expansion franchise?
(On that, no one directly associated with the lawsuit planning has said anything to me about keeping the Raiders name and colors. So, any media outlet or fan group reporting that such is a target of relief is reporting an untruth at this point in time. Monetary damages appear to be the remedy sought, as much as some Oakland Raiders fans want the very skin of the organization for relocating to Las Vegas.)
Clearing Decks On Associated Raiders Lease Questions
A number of people have asked what the Oakland Raiders current lease situation is at the Coliseum. As of now, the Silver and Black pay $3.5 million to the Coliseum JPA as rent. That’s an increase from the previous year’s $925,000. The matter of the not-paid parking revenue of almost $1 million has not been resolved, but is still being worked out. As I understand it from a number of observers much better postioned than I, the negotiations have gone well to this point. But Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley did throw in a possible stumbling block, when he told me, on video, that the lease issue was “up in the air” – far from a slam dunk:
What is the possible issue? The amount of payment for the rent in the extension, I’m told – but not by Miley. Numbers as high as $10 million for 2020 have been mentioned to me, but other Coliseum JPA Board members don’t want to be seen as gouging the Oakland Raiders.
My June 4, 2018 Zennie62 Livestream interview with Oakland Coliseum JPA Board Member Chris Dobbins sheds more light on what the JPA might be thinking, from his point of view. Remember, that other Coliseum JPA Board Members have told me they don’t know anything, so…
Stay tuned and subscribe to Zennie62 on YouTube. The next livestream, and one on this subject, will be Tuesday night, June 26th at 8:30 PM PST.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media