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Cardinals Go to Court to Challenge NFL's Rule on Relocation

February 12, 1986

The St. Louis Cardinals filed suit Tuesday, challenging the National Football League requirement that three-fourths of the league's teams approve a club's plans to relocate.

The suit, filed in New York, charges the NFL and Commissioner Pete Rozelle with violating federal antitrust laws.

The Cardinals' suit alleges Rozelle threatened to sue the team if it transfers the franchise from its current home in Busch Stadium. The suit singles out New York and Phoenix as locations that have expressed interest in having the Cardinals relocate.

The suit said Rozelle's action "paralyzed the St. Louis football Cardinals in its efforts to maintain its competitive position within the NFL and to preserve and enhance the value of its franchise."

Busch Stadium, which seats 51,391 for football, is the league's second smallest stadium. Its capacity is about 10,000 less than the NFL's average attendance.

The Cardinals' suit said the position taken by Rozelle on behalf of the league is contrary to the decision made by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that NFL rules regarding franchise transfers violate federal antitrust laws.

That ruling set a precedent that would appear to favor the Cardinals. The Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982 without receiving approval from three-quarters of the clubs.

The jury found in the Raiders favor without comment, while the appeals court ruled that NFL rules regarding moves were illegal but could be modified. The Colts also moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis against the NFL's wishes.

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