San Francisco Seals v. NHL

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Hockey Forum' started by jkrdevil, Jul 9, 2007.

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  1. jkrdevil

    jkrdevil UnRegistered User

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    In doing research for a paper I am writing for my Sports and Society class I came across this article which discusses franchise movement court cases specifically the Raiders case. It also mentions the case of the San Francisco Seals v. National Hockey League, which might relate to the discussion on here earlier about a teams chances of fighting the league in court if the league blocks a proposed move. While there was a lot of mention of the more famous Davis case there was no mention of this case. Apparently the decision, which allowed the league to block the Seals move to Vancouver, still applies to the NHL (although I'm not sure if that is because it deals with the NHL explicitly or it just hasn't been challenged).

    It's an academic article that was peer reviewed and appeared in the Fall 1997 addition of Antitrust Bulletin. I'm also assuming that the San Francisco Seals mentioned are the same team known on the ice as the California Seals. Here is what the article said about the case:

    Here's the Link but You probably have to have access to Proquest to read the full article.

    So two questions I have for those that might be more knowledgeable about this case.

    1. Does anyone have anymore information on the case? This is the first I have ever heard about the case and am interested in hearing more about it.

    2. How would this decision any effect any hypothetical case against the league challenging a block of a franchise relocation?
     
  2. Hasbro

    Hasbro Can He Skate?! Sponsor

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    Is that when Charles O finley owned the team?
     
  3. krudmonk

    krudmonk Registered User

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    They weren't called "San Francisco" when he owned them or at any time they were in the NHL.
     
  4. Hoser

    Hoser Registered User

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    The business was named San Francisco Seals Limited prior to having joined the NHL, and may have continued to use the name for some time while part of the NHL.

    The California Seals/Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals began life in 1961 as the San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League (a minor pro league unrelated to the current-day major junior league). They weren't really an 'expansion' club per se: they changed affiliation from WHL to NHL, but the club itself, the business, was still the same legal entity.

    Within their first season in the NHL there were rumours that the Seals would move to Vancouver, as they couldn't get an arena deal in San Francisco and were drawing very poorly in Oakland (the Seals had been the Oakland Oaks biggest rival in the WHL; it would be like moving the Flames to Edmonton, calling them Alberta Flames, and expecting Edmontonians to start cheering for them...).

    Owner Barry van Gerbig went into discussions with the NHL BoG, said he wanted to move the team to Vancouver, but the BoG told him he couldn't, they wouldn't let him. NHL clubs were bound to the NHL's own rules, which said (still say...) club relocations had to be approved by the BoG.

    van Gerbig was obviously quite upset at being told what he could and couldn't do with his business so he took the NHL to court over it. The NHL won. van Gerbig said "F this BS, F you guys" (metaphorically, anyway) and sold the club to Charlie Finley in 1970 ('69?).

    Finley then made the club a league laughingstock and got the hell out of the biz in '74, in much the same fashion as van Gerbig. Problem was van Gerbig found someone to buy the team: Finley couldn't find anyone. The NHL paid him out, operated the franchise for a couple years (much as the Expos were run by MLB in their last seasons), eventually selling it to the Gunds and letting them move the club to Cleveland.
     
  5. Clarence Beeks

    Clarence Beeks Registered User

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    The only way that this would really effect any hypothetical case against the NHL would be if the NHL were sued in the Central District of California. If they were sued anywhere else, it wouldn't have any effect at all. The only reason it is even mentioned in the Raiders case is because the two suits were filed in the same court.
     
  6. kdb209

    kdb209 Registered User

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    Actually, not just the Central District of California - but anywhere in the west covered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    The Ninth Circuit upheld that the District Court ruling that the NFL was not a Single Entity. Any action under the Ninth Circuit would have Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission v National Football League (The Al Davis/Raiders case) as precedent within the court.

    If you care for the gory details:

    http://www2.bc.edu/~yen/Sports/LA Coliseum v NFL.doc
     
  7. Clarence Beeks

    Clarence Beeks Registered User

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    Sorry, but that isn't exactly accurate. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commn. v. National Football League, 726 F.2d 1381 (9th Cir. 1984), examines San Francisco Seals, Ltd. v. National Hockey League, 379 F.Supp 996 (C.D. Cal. 1974), while recognizing the single entity principle, does not adopt the holding of San Francisco Seals as its holding. As a result, you can say that Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commn. is binding precedent for the Ninth Circuit, but you can't say that San Francisco Seals is binding precedent.
     
  8. kdb209

    kdb209 Registered User

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    That's what I was saying - sorry if it wasn't clear.

    LA Memorial Coliseum Commission - affirmed by the 9th Circuit - is the prevailing precedent.
     
  9. Clarence Beeks

    Clarence Beeks Registered User

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    Gotcha, I see what you were saying. LAMCC is precedent in the Ninth Circuit, SFS is precedent only in the C.D. Cal. That's what I was trying to say in my OP. Sorry if I wasn't clear either.
     

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