A California congressman reintroduced legislation yesterday that would force the Raiders of the National Football League to move back to Oakland and give the NFL and other professional sports leagues a limited antitrust exemption that would permit them to enforce their own rules on franchise relocation.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Fortney H. (Pete) Stark (D-Calif.), also would permit professional sports leagues to require their teams to share revenues without being subject to antitrust liability.
Similar legislation in the last session of Congress drew 180 cosponsors in the House and Senate, but never was reported out of committee despite intense lobbying by the NFL.
Stark, whose district includes Oakland, said his bill "is designed to prevent a few from profiting by ignoring sports leagues' rules designed to protect the public interest in the areas of team location and revenue sharing."
Stark's bill also would not allow a team to move unless it had lost money for three consecutive years, was playing in an inadequate stadium where the stadium operators were unwilling to make improvements or the stadium had failed to live up to its lease agreement.
In testimony on Capitol Hill last year, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle urged passage of the limited antitrust exemption but argued against criteria governing when a club could or could not relocate.
As written, the legislation would apply retroactively to the Raiders, who won a court judgment that the NFL acted in violation of federal antitrust laws in trying to block the move to the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Ed Garvey, executive director of the NFL Players Association, an opponent of Stark's bill in the last session of Congress, said he would support criteria governing when a team can or cannot relocate but not an antitrust exemption for the NFL.
A bill being prepared for introduction in the Senate by Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.) would prohibit any team that has been in an area for six years or more from moving if the local government objects. There would be exceptions for poor stadium conditions or three straight years of financial losses.