< Back to H.R. 2699 (104th Congress, 1995–1996)

Text of the Fans Rights Act of 1995

This bill was introduced on November 30, 1995, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Nov 30, 1995 (Introduced).

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HR 2699 IH

104th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2699

To require the consideration of certain criteria in decisions to relocate professional sports teams, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 30, 1995

Mr. STOKES introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To require the consideration of certain criteria in decisions to relocate professional sports teams, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Fans Rights Act of 1995’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds that--

      (1) professional sports teams foster a strong local identity with the people of the cities and regions in which they are located, providing a source of civic pride for their supporters;

      (2) professional sports teams provide employment opportunities, revenues, and a valuable form of entertainment for the cities and regions in which they are located;

      (3) there are significant public investments associated with professional sports facilities;

      (4) it is in the public interest to encourage professional sports leagues to operate under policies that promote stability among their member teams and to promote the equitable resolution of disputes arising from the proposed relocation of professional sports teams; and

      (5) professional sports teams travel in interstate to compete and utilize materials shipped in interstate commerce, and professional sports games are broadcast nationally.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    As used in this Act--

      (1) the term ‘home territory’ means the geographic area within which a member team operates and plays the majority of its home games, as defined in the governing agreement or agreements of the relevant league on November 1, 1995, or upon the commencement of operations of any league after such date;

      (2) the term ‘interested party’ includes--

        (A) any local government that has provided financial assistance, including tax abatement, to the facilities in which the team plays;

        (B) a representative of the local government for the locality in which a member team’s stadium or arena is located;

        (C) a member team;

        (D) the owner or operator of a stadium or arena of a member team; and

        (E) any other affected party, as designated by the relevant league;

      (3) the term ‘local government’ means a city, county, parish, town, township, village, or any other general governmental unit established under State law;

      (4) the terms ‘member team’ and ‘team’ mean any team of professional athletes--

        (A) organized to play major league football, basketball, hockey, or baseball; and

        (B) that is a member of a professional sports league;

      (5) the term ‘person’ means any individual, partnership, corporation, or unincorporated association, any combination or association thereof, or any political subdivision;

      (6) the terms ‘professional sports league’ and ‘league’ mean an association that--

        (A) is composed of 2 or more member teams;

        (B) regulates the contests and exhibitions of its member teams; and

        (C) has been engaged in competition in a particular sport for more than 7 years; and

      (7) the terms ‘stadium’ and ‘arena’ mean the principal physical facility within which a member team plays the majority of its home games.

SEC. 4. CLARIFICATION OF ANTITRUST LAWS RELATED TO THE RELOCATION AND RELOCATION DETERMINATION CRITERIA.

    (a) APPLICATION OF ANTITRUST LAWS- It shall not be unlawful by reason of any provision of the antitrust laws for a professional sports league to enforce rules authorizing the membership of the league to decide that a member club of such league shall not be relocated.

    (b) CRITERIA FOR RELOCATION DECISIONS- Notwithstanding any other law, prior to making a decision to approve or disapprove the relocation of a member team, a professional sports league shall take into consideration--

      (1) the extent to which fan loyalty to and support for the team has been demonstrated during the team’s tenure in the community;

      (2) the degree to which the team has engaged in good faith negotiations with appropriate persons concerning terms and conditions under which the team would continue to play its games in the community or elsewhere within its home territory;

      (3) the degree to which the ownership or management of the team has contributed to any circumstances that might demonstrate the need for the relocation;

      (4) the extent to which the team, directly or indirectly, received public financial support by means of any publicly financed playing facility, special tax treatment, or any other form of public financial support;

      (5) the adequacy of the stadium in which the team played its home games in the previous season, and the willingness of the stadium, arena authority, or local government to remedy any deficiencies in the facility;

      (6) whether the team has incurred net operating losses, exclusive of depreciation and amortization, sufficient to threaten the continued financial viability of the team;

      (7) whether any other team in the league is located in the community in which the team is located;

      (8) whether the team proposes to relocate to a community in which no other team in the league is located;

      (9) whether the stadium authority, if public, is opposed to the relocation; and

      (10) whether there is a bona fide investor offering fair market value for the member team and seeking to retain the team in the home territory.

SEC. 5. NOTICE OF PROPOSED CHANGE IN HOME TERRITORY AND RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Any person seeking to change the home territory of a member team to a location other than the location of such member team’s home territory shall furnish notice of such proposed change not later than 180 days before the commencement of the season in which the member team is to play in such other location.

    (b) PARTIES ENTITLED TO RECEIVE NOTICE- The notice required under subsection (a) shall be furnished to all interested parties.

    (c) REQUIREMENTS- The notice shall--

      (1) be in writing and delivered in person or by certified mail;

      (2) be made available to the news media;

      (3) be published in 1 or more newspapers of general circulation within the member team’s home territory; and

      (4) contain--

        (A) an identification of the proposed new location of such member team;

        (B) a summary of the reasons for the change in home territory based on the criteria listed in section 4(b); and

        (C) the date on which the proposed change would become effective.

    (d) OPPORTUNITY TO PURCHASE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- During the 180-day notice period under subsection (a), a local government, stadium, arena authority, person, or any combination thereof, may prepare and present a proposal to purchase the member team to retain the team in the home territory.

      (2) MEMBERSHIP IN LEAGUE- If a bid under paragraph (1) is successful, the professional sports league of the member team shall not prohibit membership in the league on the basis that the new ownership of the member team is made up of multiple owners or that the new ownership includes 1 or more local governments.

    (e) OPPORTUNITY TO INDUCE TEAM TO STAY- During the 180-day notice period under subsection (a), a local government, stadium authority, person, or any combination thereof, shall be given the opportunity to prepare and present a proposal to induce the member team to remain in its home territory.

    (f) RESPONSE- The response of the owner to any offer made under subsection (d) or (e) shall--

      (1) be in writing and delivered in person or by certified mail; and

      (2) state in detail the reasons for refusal of any bona fide offer.

    (g) DETERMINATION BY LEAGUE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The professional sports league shall make a determination with respect to the location of such member team’s home territory before the expiration of the 180-day notice period required by this section.

      (2) HEARINGS- In making a determination under this subsection, the professional sports league shall conduct a hearing at which interested parties are afforded an opportunity to present oral or written testimony regarding a change in the location of a member team’s home territory. The league shall keep a record of all such proceedings.

      (3) CONSIDERATION OF PROPOSALS- The professional sports league shall take into account any inducement proposal that has been offered under subsection (e).

    (h) CONSIDERATIONS- In determining whether to approve or disapprove the relocation of a member team, a professional sports league shall take into consideration the criteria listed in section 4(b).

SEC. 6. JUDICIAL REVIEW.

    (a) IN GENERAL- A decision by a professional sports league to approve or disapprove the relocation of a member team may be reviewed in a civil action brought by an interested party.

    (b) VENUE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Subject to paragraph (3), venue shall be proper in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction over the action under section 1331 of title 28, United States Code.

      (2) CHANGE OF VENUE- Subject to paragraph (3), upon the motion of any party, the district court may, for the convenience of the parties or in the interests of justice, transfer an action brought under this section to any district that has jurisdiction over such action under section 1331 of title 28, United States Code.

      (3) LIMITATION- No action may be brought under this section in any United States district court of the State that contains--

        (A) the member club’s home territory; or

        (B) the proposed location of such member club.

    (c) ADDITIONAL PROCEEDINGS- In any case in which the interested parties have not been afforded an opportunity to present oral or written testimony in accordance with section 5(f), the district court may, by order, require the relevant professional sports league to conduct additional proceedings at which such testimony may be presented, and to reconsider its decision to approve or disapprove the relocation based on such testimony. Not later than 30 days after the date of any such order, the league shall reconsider and resubmit its decision to the district court, and the district court shall review such decision in accordance with this section.

    (d) NO WAIVER OF RIGHTS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the waiver of any legal rights in existence prior to the date of enactment of this Act.

SEC. 7. INAPPLICABILITY TO CERTAIN MATTERS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Nothing contained in this Act shall--

      (1) alter, determine, or otherwise affect the applicability or inapplicability of the antitrust laws, the labor laws, or any other provision of law relating to the wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment of players in any professional sports league, to any employment matter regarding players in any such league, or to any collective bargaining rights and privilege of any player union in any such league;

      (2) alter or affect the applicability or inapplicability of the antitrust laws or any applicable Federal or State law relating to broadcasting or telecasting, including section 1291 of title 15, United States Code, any agreement between any professional sports league or its member teams, and any person not affiliated with such a league for the broadcasting or telecasting of the games of such league or its member teams on any form of television;

      (3) affect any contract, or provision of a contract, relating to the use of a stadium or arena between a member team and the owner or operator of any stadium or arena or any other person;

      (4) exempt from the antitrust laws any agreement to fix the prices of admission to sports contests;

      (5) exempt from the antitrust laws any predatory practice or other conduct with respect to competing sports leagues that would otherwise be unlawful under the antitrust laws; or

      (6) except as provided in this Act, alter, determine, or otherwise affect the applicability or inapplicability of the antitrust laws to any act, contract, agreement, rule, course of conduct, or other activity by, between, or among persons engaging in, conducting, or participating in professional football, basketball, hockey, or baseball.

    (b) DEFINITION- As used in this section, the term ‘antitrust laws’ shall have the meaning given to such term in the first section of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 12) and in the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.).

SEC. 8. ATTEMPTS TO INFLUENCE RELOCATION DECISIONS.

    It shall be unlawful for any person, including a member team, owner, or affiliated party, or any State or political subdivision, to make or offer to make a payment of money or to provide or arrange with others for the provision of other value to a league or to any of its members in connection with a decision regarding the relocation of a member team.

SEC. 9. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    This Act shall apply to any relocation of the home territory of a member team that occurs on or after October 1, 1995.