Raiders vs. The City of Oakland and Alameda County 

Raiders vs. The City of Oakland and Alameda County


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This is a collection of articles and information on the Raiders case. Add your coments at the bottom of this page.

Posted on Mon, Aug. 11, 2003
Jury in Raiders' lawsuit deciding which side to trust
By Barry Witt
Mercury News

As they resume deliberations today in the Raiders' fraud suit against the Oakland Coliseum, 12 Sacramento jurors are wrestling with conflicting testimony on just about everything concerning owner Al Davis' decision to return from Los Angeles.

Everything -- including Davis' wardrobe on Aug. 7, 1995, when he entered a Coliseum meeting five hours before signing a 16-year contract.

``He was wearing his traditional jumpsuit-type attire, Raider-type emblem,'' testified Ed DeSilva, a key negotiator for the East Bay.

``He was wearing a business suit and tie,'' countered Raiders chief executive Amy Trask.

And the man himself? ``I'm not sure exactly, if I were wearing a white sweatsuit, a black-white suit or a white suit, or my shirt and tie,'' Davis said.

The testimony on so minor a point is indicative of the hazy memories and divergent accounts of the most crucial matter in dispute: whether Davis was told, before he signed the contract to return, that thousands of applications for season-ticket packages were in doubt because of bounced checks and rejected credit cards.

After listening to witnesses for four months, the three men and nine women on the jury panel have been deliberating since late Wednesday on whether to give Davis any part of the $833 million he claims he's losing because Oakland officials ``conned'' him into returning, or send him home empty-handed with a message to accept the blame for his own mistakes.

Coliseum officials announced July 20, 1995, that they had sold 44,700 personal seat licenses -- which fans needed for the right to buy season tickets. That number represented a sellout of the stadium in 1995, before it was expanded.

Dispute over meeting

However, by Aug. 7 that year, the officials knew nearly 5,000 PSL applications had been rejected.

Witnesses representing the Coliseum, DeSilva and the Arthur Andersen accounting firm, which was keeping the books, said Davis was provided that information. Davis, Trask and Raiders legend Jim Otto, the three team representatives in the room, said he wasn't. Oakland and Alameda County were dismissed from the case on technical grounds, but city and county taxpayers remain on the hook if either the Coliseum or DeSilva must pay damages.

In addition to the dispute over what was said during that five-hour meeting, the jurors also are confronted with sorting out the truth on these key points:

???????????????????????????????????????Whether on June 23, 1995, when he signed an initial ``letter of intent'' to return to Oakland, Davis expected sales results to be available before he would sign the final contract.

???????????????????????????????????????Whether Davis was aware during the 1995 season and in early 1996 that thousands of PSLs remained available. That fact is important because on June 1, 1996, Davis signed an amended version of the original contract, reaffirming his actions of the prior summer, without complaining that he'd been misled about the number of PSLs sold.

On at least one matter, both sides agree: For a year before Davis signed the deal, East Bay leaders were selling Davis on the merits of returning to Oakland.

Raiders attorneys spent days demonstrating how Davis repeatedly was assured about the continued viability of a market he had abandoned in 1982. But those assurances were nothing more than salesmanship, according to the Coliseum. Both sides agree there were no written sales guarantees in the contract.

``They were assuming a sellout,'' Davis testified. ``We were concerned about it, but we were assured it can be done, and then we were told it was done.''

Coliseum attorneys argued that Davis never expected to see sales results before the deal would become final.

Regardless of his intent, however, the Coliseum did end up announcing sales results before the signing date. So the most important evidence in the case involves what happened Aug. 7, 1995 -- three weeks after the PSL application deadline and a point at which the Coliseum already was aware of problems.

DeSilva, former Coliseum board member Dennis Cuneo, former Oakland Deputy City Manager Ezra Rapport and two executives from Arthur Andersen say Davis was given a document that day outlining the problems with bad credit cards and check problems. Andersen partner Marvin Friedman and the others said Friedman talked Davis through the document.

Notes that Rapport said he took at the meeting list the names of those in attendance. Comments on the credit-card and check problems are written next to the name ``A. Davis,'' which Rapport said reflected Davis' participation.

Shown Rapport's notes on the witness stand, Davis said, ``Listen, I don't know when these notes were written, but Al Davis was in the room and these things were not discussed.''

A related matter jurors will have to consider is whether the Raiders should have understood that statements that PSLs had been ``sold'' before Aug. 7 reflected only the fact that fans had put down non-refundable deposits equal to 25 percent of the PSL price by that date, not the full price of the PSL, nor money for season tickets.

Fans abandoned PSLs

Thousands of fans ended up abandoning those deposits. Many did so because they had submitted applications for far more tickets than they wanted in the belief that demand would be overwhelming, and they got stuck with every PSL they ordered. Others dropped out because they realized single-game tickets probably would be available without the need to buy PSLs.

Indeed, single-game tickets were available throughout the 1995 season, and in ensuing seasons. Whether the Raiders were told why is the final key issue in dispute.

On Aug. 18, 1995, Coliseum officials announced that only 31,000 PSL buyers had made their second deposits, a figure reported on the front page of newspapers across the Bay Area. The poor sales performance was common knowledge throughout the fall, as single-game tickets went on sale and two home games failed to sell out, and, by NFL rule, could not be shown on local television.

But Davis and Trask, who were still based in Los Angeles, said they didn't see the Bay Area newspaper stories. In any case, they said they were continually assured by DeSilva and Rapport that any deficiencies were because of confusion at the ticket office. Contrary to what the newspapers reported, they said they believed there were buyers for the remaining PSLs, but their accounts just needed to get straightened out.

``A PSL holder, who did not have a clean, pure, perfected, cured account would often be in a position of purchasing their seats on a game-to-game basis,'' Trask testified.

It wasn't until a meeting at the Raiders' new headquarters in Alameda in June 1996 -- three weeks after Davis signed the amended deal -- that he said Rapport and DeSilva told him of the true status of PSL sales.

``It's tough to explain what you say and what you feel, but we were told almost that our project here in Oakland was a total, total disaster,'' Davis testified. The team owner added that he told DeSilva, ``We've got to be made whole.''

Raiders court case winds down
By Guy Ashley
August 4, 2003

OAKLAND - East Bay football fans may never have yearned so longingly for a bone-crunching Bill Romanowski hit or gravity-defying Jerry Rice touchdown catch.

Not only will Friday's Oakland Raiders exhibition season opener against St. Louis mark the team's first game since January's devastating Super Bowl loss, it also promises to put football front and center again after months of toxic courtroom chatter in the team's $1.1 billion fraud trial.

But as the new season begins and the trial ends, jurors should be deliberating by the time players take the field.

The game marks a good time to ask a question of the Raiders and their primary courtroom opponents, the city of Oakland and Alameda County.

Where do we go from here?

Both the Raiders and local officials say they want the same things -- winners on the field and at the ticket office. Furthermore, they say coming together during the final eight years of the team's lease in Oakland is the best way to ensure that success.

"This isn't personal; this is business," said Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente. "We don't have the luxury of picking and choosing. The Raiders are our tenants. We have to make this work."

But mending fences won't be easy, especially in the wake of 15 weeks of fulminating about betrayal, lies and cutthroat fiscal opportunism in a Sacramento courtroom.

The Raiders claimed they were tricked into an Oakland return with false promises of sold-out games.

Even basic questions about filling Network Associates Coliseum, and making the Raiders-East Bay partnership a financial winner, easily lead the primary players into a blame game.

One of the primary hindrances to ticket sales, De La Fuente says, is Raider unwillingness to commit long-term to Oakland.

But Raiders senior assistant Bruce Allen says the Raiders' struggle to sell out their stadium each year lies in failure to market the team, the job handled by the publicly funded Oakland Football Marketing Association.

"We have the best record in the NFL since 1963," Allen said. "Generating interest in this team should be a piece of cake, but they refuse to abide by the terms of the lease and spend the money it takes to market the team."

Which leads De La Fuente to say that lease terms are not being breached, and that the team should focus on football rather than paying lawyers. He notes an attendance surge in recent years as team performance has improved.

Allen says it was local governments who originally sued the Raiders for trying to break their lease, an action that brought a countersuit by the team that's the subject of the ongoing fraud trial.

The bickering makes it seem unrealistic to believe the sides can kiss and make up, but they may have to do just that. The dysfunctional courtship that began in 1995 is on the verge of a crucial new turn.

In just two years, the personal seat licenses that are the backbone of the Raiders season ticket program, and the primary revenue source for local governments seeking to pay off bonds issued to finance the team's return, must be remarketed under the terms of the deal that returned the Raiders to Oakland in 1995.

That means fans may be asked again to shell out up to $4,000 per seat on top of the price of tickets -- already among the most expensive in professional sports.

The remarketing date is crucial to the city and the county because poor PSL sales are a fundamental reason each has had to shell out about $76 million to subsidize finance Coliseum renovation and operating costs central to the original Raiders deal.

The team has about 31,000 PSL holders for the upcoming season. That figure is up about 1,000 from 2002, but for a team with a 60,000-seat-plus stadium and coming off of a Super Bowl year, that is a disappointing figure to Raiders' officials.

"If we aren't successful (at renewing PSLs) then our debt obligation grows and we're looking at another disaster," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, a member of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority board.

But the challenge may be more than effectively hyping a good football team.

The expense, distribution snafus that have plagued the season-ticket program and other factors have combined over the years to make "PSL" a derogatory term.

Asking fans to buy in again may be like asking Rice, who is pushing 41, to carry the team for another 15 seasons.

"To put up that kind of investment again, the way they've handled it, there's no way," said Mike Nittoli, 43, of Livermore, an original PSL holder.

"Why buy a PSL when you don't get anything in return? All I get from the Raiders is one hassle after another over my tickets, and a bill in the mail."

Fan discontent makes coming together more crucial, De La Fuente said.

After all, the PSL program's second phase could raise up to $70 million to help Oakland and Alameda County pay off their debts.

But De La Fuente said success probably can only lie in a creative new spin on the PSL program, one that takes the bad taste from the mouths of fans and kindles a new level of fan interest.

The catch is the Raiders and their public hosts must sign off on any alterations to the ticket program.

"Together we must sit down and look at our options, and we have to do it yesterday," De La Fuente said. "This thing is coming. It's a challenge that neither we nor the Raiders can hide from."


Raiders Football Dispute Takes the Field
Jeff Chorney
The Recorder

The $1 billion battle over the Raiders' return to Oakland, Calif., began with a pun and ended with a fumble Monday as powerhouse attorneys squared off in front of jurors for the first time.

The pun was made by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Richard Park as he prepared the 12 jurors and three alternates for a trial that he expects to last at least two months. Sidebars, Park told jurors, were "not to hide the ball from you, but to make a decision in court."

The fumble came from defense attorney James Brosnahan, whom the judge dinged for mentioning to jurors an earlier phase of the litigation.

It might be an understandable error given the legal tangle between Oakland and the Raiders. The trial stems from a 1997 suit filed by the city of Oakland and the county of Alameda over fears that the Raiders football team, freshly moved from Los Angeles to the East Bay, would try to get out of its 15-year lease. The matter now before jurors, though, is the Raiders' countersuit, alleging that negotiators fraudulently reported ticket sales in order to persuade the franchise to return to Oakland -- the city the team had left a decade earlier.

Although the claim against Oakland and Alameda County will be handled in arbitration, taxpayers could eventually shell out damages if the Raiders win at the Sacramento trial. That's because those public entities indemnified their chief negotiator, politically connected Dublin businessman Edwin DeSilva.

Any light moments created by Park's opening pun evaporated when the Raiders' lead trial attorney, Roger Dreyer, who is managing partner at Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham in Sacramento, began an opening statement that went on for 3 1/2 hours.

"This case ... deals with what is true, what is false. It deals with representations that were made that were false," Dreyer said.

He appeared well aware that if he wants a chance at winning, he's going to have to keep things simple. Outside court, Dreyer pointed out that 10 of the jurors are women, "not football fans." He said he wants them to think about business, not sports.

Inside court, Dreyer stood in front of a large screen displaying a complex, animated PowerPoint presentation. Using timelines, blowups of documents and photographs, Dreyer walked jurors through a quick history of the Raiders before leading a more detailed lesson in sports franchise economics.

The Raiders allege the defendants made fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations and breached good faith and fair dealing. The heart of the case is the negotiators' portrayal of personal seat licenses (PSLs), a ticketing scheme where people buy the right to purchase season tickets for a decade at a time.

When used as part of a marketing plan, PSLs can be very lucrative for teams, guaranteeing stadium sellouts for years at a time, according to sports marketing experts.

Dreyer also alleged the defendants were motivated by desperation. Because the Oakland A's baseball and Golden State Warriors basketball teams were threatening to leave, negotiators were willing to say anything to get the Raiders to move back to Oakland, he said.

Dreyer said negotiators told the Raiders that PSLs sold out in 1995, the year the team signed its new lease. But the PSLs weren't working. In fact, the Raiders allege negotiators so badly flubbed the marketing that they damaged the team's ability to make money for the rest of the lease. The lease runs until 2010.

The Raiders say they would never have signed such a long lease if they knew the reality of ticket sales.
After Dreyer, DeSilva's attorney, Morrison & Foerster partner Brosnahan, got up to tell a different story.
"What is this about fraud, and what will the evidence show?" Brosnahan asked in a chatty, down-home style. "There's so much to talk to you about, you can tell I don't know what to tell you first."

He explained the two main thrusts of his defense. First, he said the Raiders knew the true status of the ticket sales. Also, the Raiders signed a very detailed, 190-page document that said nothing about guaranteed sellouts, Brosnahan said.

"And now they come years later. 'Oh, they said something to us about it being sold out and we want hundreds of millions of dollars,'" Brosnahan said while holding up a copy of the document. Part of his strategy appears to be trying to portray the Raiders and team owner Al Davis as greedy.

The fumble came about half an hour into Brosnahan's talk, when he violated one of the motions in limine by bringing up the Raiders' earlier attempts to get out of their Oakland lease. Out of the jury's presence, Dreyer objected. Judge Park agreed but said he wasn't sure that admonishing the jury to ignore it was the best cure.
Park said he would rather the attorneys just move on with the openings.

Also named in the case as defendants are the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which also is represented by San Francisco-based Morrison & Foerster and Brosnahan, and troubled accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which is represented by Stan Roman of San Francisco's Krieg, Keller, Sloan, Reilley & Roman and Frederick Fields of San Francisco's Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass.

The Raiders have calculated a range of compensatory damages from $450 million to more than $1 billion.
The case is City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders, 97AS06708.


Trial start delayed in Oakland Raiders' $1.1 billion lawsuit

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- A Sacramento County judge has delayed the start of the trial for a $1.1 billion suit in which the Oakland Raiders claim they fraudulently were lured back to Oakland in 1995 with promises of sellout crowds that never materialized.

Superior Court Judge Joe S. Gray granted the request from the Raiders and Arthur Andersen LLP to give them more time to review and authenticate documents and hold new depositions if necessary.

Attorneys for the Raiders, the City of Oakland and Alameda County initially agreed to begin the jury selection for the trial July 2.

Raiders attorney Kenneth Hausman said Tuesday he hopes the trial won't begin until early next year. A call to an attorney representing the city and county was not immediately returned.

Raiders attorneys allege the NFL team's owners signed agreements to return to Oakland in 1995 after the city falsely told them all the seats in the stadium had been sold. The lawsuit was filed in 1997.

In pretrial proceedings, the presiding judge ruled the Raiders could not sue the City of Oakland or Alameda County for fraud because the team waited too long to file the complaint and because they are public agencies.

But the team still can sue the defunct Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Corp., which oversaw the team's move from Los Angeles back to Oakland. That body was made up of representatives from the city and county.

Gray ruled in February that attorneys for the city and county cannot bring up evidence at the trial to try to support their contention that the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Corp. was a public entity.

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Comment Simply just sit down with the owner of the Raiders and negotiate a reasonable contract/lease that will not discontent anyone in the process. If they feel they aren't going to sell out on all psl's and their revenue percentage isnt' going to be what they thought, then they must come up with another innovative idea that will compensate the revenue lost for not seeling out all the psl's. Something like this is possible, they just need to sit down and think of all alternatives that are out there. I feel the county was unethical for lieing and not complieing with the owner and the franchise by telling them about a guarantee sellout of psl's. This was entirely unaccepetable and this so called dilemma would of never occurred in this negotiating process. This organization needs to sit down and look at all the previous statistics on the revenue they brought in from recent psl's. This can be a very lucrative to a franchise if its done properly.

Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:03 pm MST by Anonymous

Comment OK, I was not aware of the blackout rule. I take back what I said about the blackouts.

Tue Aug 26, 2003 5:52 pm MST by Matthew

Comment Actually, Raiders games blacked out have nothing to do with the organization, and everything to do with NFL policy. Starting in 1973, the league adopted a policy of not showing games that did not sellout before a 72-hour period prior to kickoff. In 1961, Congress passed the Sports Broadcasting Act in response to a court decision that ruled the TV agreement between the NFL and CBS was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The SBA passage allowed professional sports leagues to sell TV packages to networks and has been interpreted by courts to include blackout rules.

Sat Aug 23, 2003 10:23 pm MST by Zennie

Comment The Oakland Raiders??? ownership can only blame themselves for their team???s financial losses. They have made a number of bad decisions over the years. Among those include their moves to Los Angeles and back to Oakland again. Both moves cost the team a lot of money and fans. Many fans couldn???t forgive Al Davis for his decisions of moving the team twice. The Raiders probably would have saved a lot of money if they had never left Oakland in the first place because the loyal fans would have been able to attend their team???s home games rather than watch them in their living rooms. Instead, the organization is back in court fighting to get money back they lost while losing even more money to pay for the trial. Al Davis and company said they were misled by the Coliseum when stadium officials guaranteed sellouts. I strongly doubt that the Coliseum would guarantee sellouts because that would be too risky and unnecessary. Besides, Raiders??? ownership should have known what to expect from the Coliseum prior to moving back to Oakland. After all, the stadium had been the home of the team before leaving for LA. To make matters even worse the Raider???s corporate executives including Al Davis have not done an effective job of working with Coliseum officials on drawing fans to games. The Raiders??? executives have made desperate attempts to increase attendance at home games by blacking out the TV broadcasts if games don???t sell out. However, this approach has always failed and yet they continue to use it in hopes it will work. Instead of punishing the fans they should find effective methods of attracting fans. Apparently, the Raiders are upset about their money losses and want to blame someone for their troubles. The logical target is the Oakland Coliseum. Of course Al Davis and company wouldn???t want to accept the blame because that would hurt their pride too much.

Sat Aug 23, 2003 5:37 pm MST by Matthew

Comment This information is based on documents I produced while serving as Economic Advisor to Mayor Elihu Harris from 1995 to 1999, then founder and head of the Oakland Alameda County Sports Commission from 1999 to 2001. ___________________________________________ A History of Animosity Between The Raiders and Oakland Elected Officials. The 1979 argument starts it all: A proposed $54 million deal to add 10,000 seats to the Oakland Coliseum and install luxury boxes was killed by the Coliseum Board and then president, Robert Nahas and another board member, the late Joe Bort. 1981: Oakland tries to keep Raiders in Oakland using "eminent domain" claim --- fails in court. 1989: Oakland officials begin planning phase of project to build the Coliseum into a "Raiders specific stadium." By 1991, Personal Seat License-based deal proposal skyrocketed to $600 million. 1993: Oakland hosts a preseason game between the Houston Oilers and the LA Raiders, attracting over 50,000 people (near capacity at the time). Talk of moving back to Oakland reaches the public's ear. 1994: Oakland Officials redesign the $600 million 1989 deal and come up with a scaled down "$190 milllion" version. The NFL, fearing the loss of a team in the largest TV market in the country, develop an alternative deal using Hollywood Park Race Track as a site. The City of Oakland used the material from the $600 million deal, including an Economic Research Associates study that projected as much as $60 million from the sale of PSLs in the Bay Area market. That study was released in 1989, and never updated to 1994 conditions. 1995: Talks between Oakland Officials and The Raiders became more serious and frequent, but so do talks between the Raiders and Hollywood Park Officials. Then-Oakland / Alameda County Coliseum Board President George Vukasin complains "we're losing time that could be spent selling tickets." August 6, 1995: Al Davis signs the deal that brings the Raiders back to Oakland. But there are problems: 1) Marc Ganis: The sports marketing specialist was unable to deliver on the sale of luxury boxes and PSLs. As of August 25, 1995, it was reported that the 31,213 PSLs sold were far short of the 55,968 PSL total. But the full implications of this fact were not known to either Oakland Officials or Alameda County Officials until one year later. Ganis is fired and another sports marketing specialist, Max Muleman, is brought in. He is no more successful than Ganis. 2) August 10 1995: Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority is established. The Oakland City Manager (then Craig Kocian) and the Alameda County Supervisor (then Steven Szalay and now Susan Muranishi) are the joint members of the JPA. The JPA's job is to manage the Oakland Coliseum. The JPA's meetings were seldom placed on public notice, and few seemed to know what was going on. 3) October 1995: Seattle Seahawks game marks the first blackout of Raiders home games. This, in spite of an extension in the NFL's sellout deadline to 6 PM on that Friday because 4,000 new seats were constructed to transfer the stadium from a baseball configuration to a football setup. December 9, 1995: Oakland Elected Officials are briefed on a startling discovery by Coliseum Financial Advisor David Stephens of Stephens McCarthy Kuenzel. He tells them that by 1998 the City and the County will be responsible for the payment of debt service on the Raider Bonds. Further, he tells them that payment obligation could extend 25-years and escalate to over $400 million in payments. The required level of PSL sales was $80 million; only $57 million in PSLs were actually sold in 1995. February 1996 - Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente becomes Chairman of the City of Oakland Community Economic Development and Housing Committee of the Oakland City Council. He becomes the unofficial head of a five-member voting bloc called by some observers "The Peratatistas" because of their political relationship with then Alameda County Supervisor, and now California State Senator Don Perata. (Yes, the name "Peratatistas" came from "Sandanistas") Mayor Harris steps away from the Coliseum, siting "lack of control" and begins to concentrate on a strong-mayor initiative. De La Fuente seeks council control of the Coliseum because "it's our money now" (refering to the PSL bond issue and the City and County's responsibility to pay debt) Later that year, problems with the stadium sound system and the seat replacement device (to ease the switch from baseball to football and back again) drive up the cost of the stadium improvements to over $200 million. Cost overruns eventually drive the total expense to 32 percent over the orginal estimate. July 16, 1996: Stephens sends a memo outlining bond deficit options to the City of Oakland's Treasurer (at the time) Jan Mazyck. December 17, 1996: JPA enabiling agreement is amended to place power in the hands of four elected officials: two representing the City of Oakland and two from the County of Alameda. It also calls for 10 members from the private sector, but that part of the new resolution is not acted upon. February 1997: the first debt service payment of $14 million is due from the City and County (a 50-50 split) As of the writing of this document (October 28, 1998) 23,000 PSLs remained unsold. How this all materialized into a lawsuit (new material added after 10-28-1998): my view as Economic Advisor The entire matter started over the now-failed deal to place the name "UMAX" on the Coliseum stadium. The Raiders objected to the planned placement of the name on signage, and also to the responsibility over the flow of payments to certain parties, specifically an OFMA Luxury Suite Sales Specialist named Lynn Longmire. Longmire claimed that she was owed $1.9 million or 10 percent of the $19 million that UMAX would have spent for the naming rights over 20 years. Longmire worked under a verbal contract with the OFMA and her boss, Jim Otto, also a Raider Legend. When the Raiders met with Coliseum and City and County Officials to talk about the UMAX deal, the Raiders asked the City to pay for her part of the monies, while the City looked to the Raiders. If the UMAX deal were consumated,according to my copy of the Master Lease Agreement, Section 5.5 "Stadium Name" reads that the Raiders would have been entitled to share revenues with the Coliseum from the stadium name, after relevant expenses were deducted. (That section of the lease agreement does not provide a specific percentage share.) Thus, there was a disagreement over what the Raiders were entitled to, and who would pay Ms. Longmire. All of these disagreements did not seem to stop the movement of the deal to completion, as the new Coliseum Authority had set up a press conference at the West Side Club of the Coliseum stadium to annouce the new UMAX deal. At the time, Oakland Mayor Harris was in China, which placed De La Fuente in command as President of the Oakland City Council. It was mid- 1997 as well, and as 1998 was an election year, De La Fuente was runnning for Mayor. The press conference provided a good platform for his candidacy as Harris was out of town. The Raiders met with De La Fuente and Coliseum Officlals just before the press conference. Exiting from the meeting, the Raiders left the building under the impression that the press conference was cancelled. I came to the Coliseum because I asked De La Fuente to wait until Mayor Harris returned from China before any event annoucing the deal was produced. But after the Raiders departed, De La Fuente ordered the press conference to start. The shocked Raiders hit the ceiling and their anger was reflected in a letter from the organization's CEO, Amy Trask. The letter did not specifically state that the Raiders would move from Oakland, but it did threten that the team would seek to terminate the Master Lease if the City and the County didn't act in the sprit of the agreement. Oakland City Attorney Jane Williams, acting with Coliseum Interim Administrator Denna McClain, decided to sue the Raiders before the Raiders sued them. It was a first strike tatic, even though the team didn't actually state that it would sue the city, period. The Raiders countersued the City of Oakland for fraud, which led to the lawsuit before the jury today.

Sat Aug 23, 2003 11:39 am MST by Zennie

Comment Greetings, Unfortunately, the Raiders have trouble filling seats during preseason this year. But the regular season attendance has increased steadily over the past three years. The reason is that they're winning. This year, with the lawsuit, terrible economy, and AFC Championship crown, all coming to bear on the Raiders, one must keep an eye on attendance and ticket sales. So far, the preseason is not looking good. One problem is that the games are played on Friday night, when the team is competing with other weekend entertainment options. Another problem is that the Raiders don't play a "marque" game. For example, the league could have pitted the Tampa Bay Bucaneers against the Raiders in a preseason Super Bowl Rematch on Monday night. Why didn't that happen? By contrast, other teams benefit from such exposure during preseason: the Patriots and Packers, and Saints, for example. Also, the Raiders have not yet played a team that got beyond the first round of the playoffs (the 49ers). So, the reasons for the terrible preseason attendance thus far are day that the games are played, matchups, and ticket prices. Plus, it's preseason. But if this persists through the regular season, there's real problem.

Sat Aug 23, 2003 1:55 am MST by Zennie

Comment In all honesty, my knowledge and interest in this matter is limited. However, it's no doubt this is one of the most controversial and interesting issues in pro sports. Please forgive my ignorance in this matter; I'd love to get educated. With that said, I probably have more questions than comments. First of all, how can a powerhouse like the Raiders have trouble filling seats? As a Warriors' fan, I know that if the Warriors do well, the fans come. So, how come a team in the same market have so much trouble selling out their games? Second, it seems to me Al Davis is going to extreme measures to save his integrity, if any. It's hard to believe that he, a proclaimed businessman, would get duped by Don Perata, the bureacrats in the City of Oakland and the Alameda County Board. Third...well, for now, I'll leave it at that. I should do some more research on this myself.

Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:11 pm MST by Hodaka

Comment Please take time to share your views on the Raiders trial. If you could redesign the Raiders deal, how would you do it?

Fri Aug 22, 2003 2:41 am MST by Zennie

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