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Raiders' Final Play Is to Go Deep Into the NFL's Pockets

Jurisprudence: Team calls economist to stand in effort to establish damages in case against NFL.

April 18, 2001|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

On the day the Raiders concluded their argument in their lawsuit against the NFL, they presented the jury with their bottom line.

Or rather bottom lines.

Testifying in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday, economist Roy Weinstein estimated that the Los Angeles area was worth between $412 million and $840 million as an NFL territory. He also testified that the Raiders' decision to move to Oakland in 1995, rather than play at a proposed stadium at Hollywood Park, cost the team $569 million.

Should the jury accept the Raiders' arguments that they were forced to abandon Hollywood Park by the league and/or that they still hold territorial rights to the area, Weinstein's figures represent what the Raiders hope to receive in damages.

Also Tuesday, NFL counsel Frank Hawkins affirmed, in a deposition read in court, that when a team changes markets, the value of the two markets should be weighed.

The league has the "right to assess a fee," Hawkins testified, "based on the opportunity taken and the opportunity given. . . . In the switch, something is taken that was owned by the collective and something is given back to the collective and you pay the difference."

The Raiders maintain they should be paid by the NFL because they moved from a lucrative area to one of lesser value. Outside of court Tuesday, NFL attorney Allen Ruby said, "There is no question teams have paid the league in order to move, but there is no policy concerning the league paying teams."

Weinstein explained that his wide range of figures on L.A.'s value were based on three approaches, with some figures projected to 2010 and then readjusted to 2000.

First, he took the $64 million in damages the Raiders were awarded in their antitrust victory over the NFL in the early 1980s, subtracted the $18 million actually received in a 1989 agreement, then added 20% for each ensuing year to the remaining $46 million to reach a figure of $412 million. Weinstein testified the value of NFL franchises has increased an average of 20% annually since the league's inception.

Next, he took a 1982 analysis, which concluded the Raiders' value had increased $25 million by its move that year from Oakland to Los Angeles, and added 20% annually to reach a figure of $798 million.

Finally, he took the $700 million paid in 1999 by the city of Houston for its expansion team and added 20%. That comes to $840 million.

He reached his conclusion on Hollywood Park based on projected revenue through 2010 of $1,054,693,900, minus actual and projected income in Oakland of $359,121,100, leaving $695 million through 2010, adjusted to $569 million as of 2000.

Ruby plans on calling his own economist when the trial resumes Thursday. He hopes to complete his case by the end of next week.

Raider attorney Joseph Alioto apologized to the jury at one point Tuesday, shaking his head and saying, "Lot of numbers."

The only sure numbers thus far are those pocketed by Weinstein's company, Micronomics. The economist testified he and a staff ranging at times from 10 to 20 took four years to compile Tuesday's figures. His research included determining the number of home games played by the Raiders, a figure he easily could have obtained by picking up a team schedule.

Weinstein's bill to the Raiders: $975,000.

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