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Friday, March 05, 2004

Pittsburgh Man Sues NFL: In a similar suit to one filed last month in Cincinnati, a Pittsburgh lawyer is representing a class in a $200 million lawsuit against the NFL. The lawyer, who just finished representing four Steelers season ticket holders in a suit claiming the team tricked them into taking poorer seats, claims that NFL antitrust violations have enabled teams to extract huge subsidies from governments to build new stadiums. I have not read the complaint (if anyone can find a copy, I would love to see it), but I assume that most of the $200 million is a claim for punitive damages, since compensatory damages would probably be about $10 per taxpayer.

The attorney states:

    The NFL is a monopoly. And as we lay out in the complaint, because of the structure and the way they operate, they are able to extract from communities these commercially unreasonable (stadium) leases.

I do not know a lot about antitrust law but I do know that cities have been saying "no" to professional sports teams for years and these cities have not ceased to exist. Currently, Minneapolis/St. Paul is making the Twins cough up more private funds for a new ballpark. Pac Bell Park in San Francisco and Gillette Stadium in New England (Patriots) were both built entirely by private funds. It seems the lawyer's beef (since it seems apparent the plaintiff is a puppet) is with the city that agreed to pay the money and not with the NFL. In any case, it certainly looks like this lawyer is becoming an expert in "sports law."

Update: As expected the NFL has responded to the suit, calling it baseless.


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