Al Davis claims league owes Raiders for Los Angeles market

Wednesday, April 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Raiders owner Al Davis will face a cross-examination by the NFL on Wednesday as part of his $1 billion lawsuit against the league.

Davis already has testified for two days, answering questions posed by Raiders attorney Joseph Alioto. Davis testified that the NFL should pay him for the right to the Los Angeles market because the league left him no choice in 1995 except to return to Oakland.

Davis testified Tuesday that the league's push for a second team at Hollywood Park in nearby Inglewood violated the Raiders' exclusive right to the Los Angeles market.

If a second team was allowed at the stadium, Davis said, his team would have suffered financially.

``I would have to think that the rights within the home territory means they could not put another team in our stadium,'' Davis testified.

Alioto also has presented many letters and memoranda from league officials in an attempt to show the NFL reneged on an agreement to keep a second team out of the Hollywood Park stadium for at least two years.

Outside of court, NFL attorney Allen Ruby has said the league merely wanted an option to put a second team in Los Angeles as a way to satisfy television networks with contracts to broadcast NFL games.

The league never took any steps to actually locate a second team at the Hollywood Park facility, he said.

Ruby has said the league has no policy of paying teams that relocate.

During his testimony, Davis said he decided to abandon the Hollywood Park deal on June 15, 1995. It came just one day after the league's finance committee recommended that a second team be allowed to start play in the new stadium at the same time as the Raiders for the 1997 season, he said.

Davis said he pulled the plug on the deal after seeing a memo sent by commissioner Paul Tagliabue to league owners regarding the committee decision.

``There was no doubt it was over,'' Davis testified.

Shortly after that, Davis notified the league he would step up the pace of talks already under way with Oakland and Baltimore about moving his team to those cities.

``We had no place to put a football team,'' he testified. ``We had time constraints. It made sense to (consider relocating). Any good business would do it.''

Davis announced the Raiders were returning to Oakland on June 23, 1995. They played at the Los Angeles Coliseum from 1982-94, and Davis felt he needed a better stadium and more revenue opportunities to compete with other NFL teams.

The NFL says Davis never made a serious commitment to building a stadium at Hollywood Park.

Instead, the league claims Davis used the Hollywood Park negotiations to get a better deal from Oakland, where he accepted a package that provided $63 million in up-front payments, loans and other benefits.