NFL Official Testifies on Raiders
Apr. 20, 2001
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The NFL was willing to contribute at least $60 million to help build a stadium for the Raiders in 1995 at Hollywood Park, a league official testified Friday.
Thomas Spock, the NFL's former chief financial officer, said the league anticipated waiving its share of club seat sales at the proposed stadium in nearby Inglewood over 15 years for a total of about $60 million.
If more club seats were sold, the NFL contribution would have been even higher, Spock said, citing a 1995 league document.
The testimony came as the NFL attempted to show the league was trying to help the Raiders build the new stadium rather than force the team to leave the lucrative Los Angeles market, as the Raiders' $1 billion lawsuit alleges.
The stadium would have cost $170 million to build and furnish, according to previous testimony.
The NFL made every effort to treat teams fairly regarding requests for financial assistance to build or renovate new stadiums, said Spock, who currently is the NFL's executive vice president of new media and enterprises.
It was a ``question of fairness across the clubs,'' Spock said. ``You have to do this on an even-Steven basis.''
The league document cited by Spock showed the NFL was willing to waive various amounts of revenue for four other teams seeking to renovate or build stadiums. But the projected assistance would have been less than the money offered to the Raiders.
The largest offer outside of Hollywood Park came for a new stadium for the Carolina Panthers. The league was willing to waive its share of personal seat licenses that could amount to as much as $34 million over several years, Spock said.
Estimates of waivers of club seat revenue to aid the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins were $20 million, $30 million and $32 million, respectively.
The Raiders are claiming the NFL forced the team to leave Los Angeles by pushing for a second team to play at Hollywood Park. Raiders owner Al Davis testified last week that another team would have crippled the Raiders financially.
Friday, NFL attorney Allen Ruby asked Spock if he believed a second team at Hollywood Park would have been ``suicidal, murderous, death for the Raiders.''
``No, I didn't,'' Spock replied, saying both teams could have generated significant revenue.
During negotiations over the stadium, the NFL offered to hold at least two Super Bowls at the venue if the Raiders agreed to the option for a second team.
While cross-examining Spock, Raiders attorney Joe Alioto ran down a list of Super Bowls that have been awarded to teams with new stadiums and asked if any involved a contingency for a second team.
``They were going to have two teams in none of those new stadiums, correct? Alioto asked.
``Yes sir,'' Spock said.
The NFL claims the Raiders never made a commitment to the Hollywood Park stadium and used the situation to get a better deal from Oakland, where Davis moved the team in 1995.
The NFL opened its defense against the lawsuit on Thursday, with an economics expert testifying that a return to Oakland was more valuable to the team than building a new stadium at Hollywood Park.
The Oakland deal was worth anywhere from $52 million to $87 million more for the team, according to testimony from University of California, Berkeley, economics professor Richard Gilbert.
During cross-examination, Alioto attacked Gilbert's analysis, getting the expert to say he did not know the source of some of the projections he had used.