Judge Swipes at Raiders’ Lawsuit
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ A Superior Court judge took a tentative swipe at the Raiders’ lawsuit accusing Oakland and Alameda County of fraud in luring the team from Los Angeles in 1995.
The Raiders sought to break their longterm lease, saying the local officials promised the team sellout games at the Oakland Coliseum.
But Judge Joe Gray said in a tentative ruling Monday that the Raiders should have made the claim in 1995 after it was clear the seats weren’t sold and before the city and county went forward with more than $80 million in improvements to the stadium.
The judge did invite the Raiders to amend their complaint.
``It would mean a delay, but we’ll eventually get to trial on merits,″ Raiders attorney Kenneth Hausman said.
The Raiders will show that they tried to work for two years with city and county officials, he said.
Jeff Kessler, a lawyer for Oakland and Alameda County, said he doubts the Raiders will be able to change their complaint to the judge’s satisfaction.
``We think it’s the beginning of the end on this issue,″ Kessler said.
The deal to bring the Raiders back to Oakland was not supposed to cost taxpayers, but because of poor ticket sales and high costs the public bill was $16 million last year, and was expected to climb to $21 million this year.
The city and county sued the Raiders in 1997, alleging the team tried to block a deal with Umax Technologies of Fremont to rename the stadium. The suit also sought to stop the Raiders’ alleged threats to move.
The Raiders countersued earlier this year.
Hausman conceded the Raiders will be liable for stadium improvements if they break the lease, which expires in 2011, but will argue that renovations also benefited the Oakland Athletics, who share the stadium. The Golden State Warriors play at an arena adjacent to the coliseum.
``We’ll be able to show they had to do those improvements for the Oakland A’s and for the Golden State Warriors,″ Hausman told Gray. ``It was a 32-year-old facility that couldn’t get concerts or World Cup soccer unless those improvements were made. They made money on these improvements.″