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Supreme Court declines to tackle Raiders move to Las Vegas

Raider Nation will stay in Sin City for the foreseeable future.

(CN) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the city of Oakland's challenge against the National Football League over the Raiders' 2020 move to Las Vegas.

The court did not comment on its decision. Lawyers for both the NFL and the city of Oakland did not immediately respond to emails requesting their reaction.

Oakland sued the NFL and the Raiders in 2018, claiming the organizations had run afoul of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The suit asked for more than $240 million in damages from lost tax revenue.

"In violation of the antitrust laws, the NFL is using its cartel status to undermine competition and generate fortunes for themselves, all at a significant cost to taxpayers," city attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement at the time.

The city argued the NFL's 32-team structure allowed it and its teams to in effect bully local governments into doling out enormous tax breaks and other incentives to pay for sports stadiums, something that would never happen in a competitive market.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit on multiple grounds. Among other things, the judge found the city could not sue over lost tax revenue, since a claim like that must be based "commercial interests" rather than on predicted economic activity.

"The taxes Oakland claims to have lost would have been assessed on transactions involving countless third parties, any of whom might (or might not) be entitled to their own claims if, as Oakland contends, the Raiders’ relocation arose from violations of the Sherman Act," the judge wrote in his 30-page ruling.

The judge allowed Oakland to amend its lawsuit, but rejected it again in April 2020. In December 2021, the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously in favor of the NFL and the Raiders. A three-judge panel wrote the "city's damages are highly speculative and would be exceedingly difficult to calculate."

The city asked the Supreme Court to hear the case but was rejected.

This was not the first Raiders move to be adjudicated in court. Owner Al Davis tried to move the team from Oakland, where it was founded in 1960, to Los Angeles in 1980, only to be rejected by the league's 22 owners who vote to approve such moves. Davis tried to move the team anyway, but was blocked from doing so by a court injunction.

Davis then sued the league on antitrust grounds. The first trial ended in a mistrial; a second jury ruled in favor of Davis, and the team moved to LA in 1982 — only to move back to Oakland in 1995.

In 2020, the team moved to Las Vegas. The move was approved by all but one of the league's owners — the Miami Dolphins.

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