OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A group called “We Stand with Oakland” announced Tuesday that it has a plan to try to keep the Raiders professional football team in Oakland even though the team is now committed to moving to Las Vegas in a couple of years.
Group members said law firms are offering to represent Alameda County and the city of Oakland on a contingency basis in a potential lawsuit against the Raiders and the National Football League without financial risk to taxpayers.
Raymond Bobbitt, the group’s spokesman, said it formed about a year ago in hopes of keeping the Raiders in Oakland, citing potential harm to the local economy among their grievances.
But the group’s efforts were unsuccessful because the overwhelming majority of NFL owners voted to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas.
The team, which is still playing in Oakland, broke ground for a new stadium in Las Vegas in November and hopes to begin playing there in the fall of 2020.
Bobbitt said “We Stand with Oakland” is encouraged by a recent court ruling in Missouri, which is allowing a lawsuit by the city of St. Louis against the Rams football team, which relocated to Los Angeles in 2016, to proceed to trial.
Bobbitt said St. Louis’ lawsuit alleges that the NFL didn’t follow its own relocation procedures when it allowed the Rams to move to Los Angeles and he said a potential suit by Alameda County and the city of Oakland could be filed on similar grounds.
“We have had a groundswell of support from not just community leaders, not just fan groups, but the entire region has asked us to move forward with this process and continue to pursue it,” said Bobbitt.
Bobbitt said if St. Louis wins its suit, it might be too late to get the Rams to move back to their city but they could win monetary damages from the NFL and the Rams or get the NFL to place a new team in St. Louis.
Bobbitt said he hopes a suit by Alameda County and the city of Oakland would keep the Raiders in Oakland or at least force the NFL to place another team in Oakland.
“We’ve got a viable football market and a huge fanbase here,” Bobbitt said.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo and state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, joined the group’s members at a rally in front of the county building in Oakland before the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
“I think the best case scenario is that the county becomes a plaintiff. That also convinces the city to reconsider this. The worst case scenario is that we pass up this opportunity,” said Miley.
“If the Raiders do leave and go to Las Vegas — and many think they will; I think there is still a possibility that they wont, but many think they will — then we have to make sure what they leave behind is not the residents of Alameda County and the East Bay holding the bag and really mitigate any economic impact on the residents here,” said Bonta.
Group members planned to speak during the public comment portion of the board’s meeting.
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