Initially introduced in 1997 by Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, The Give the Fans a Chance Act would forbid leagues from prohibiting community ownership. If a professional sports league ignores this provision, it will lose its sports broadcast antitrust exemption. This exemption allows teams to collaborate to sell their broadcast rights, thus increasing their value dramatically (to the tune of $17 billion over four years for the NFL). The 1997 bill had nearly 30 sponsors.
Representative Blumenauer re-introduced the bill in 2001. Here is a summary:
GiveFans a Chance Act of 2001 (H.R. 3257) – Provides that the antitrust exemption applicable to broadcasting agreements made by professional sports leagues shall not apply to a league for any period during which any member club is: (1) subject to a league’s requirement or to an agreement made by two or more member clubs that forbids any of such clubs to transfer an ownership interest to any governmental entity or to members of the general public; or (2) not in compliance with the following relocation or elimination requirements.
Requiresa member club or a league to furnish notice of a proposed relocation of a club out of its home territory or of club elimination not later than 180 days before the commencement of the new season. Provides that, during the notice period: (1) a local government, stadium, arena authority, person, or any combination thereof (local government) may prepare and present a proposal to purchase the club to retain it in the home community; and (2) the club and the league shall give a local government the opportunity to present a proposal to induce the club to remain. Directs the league to make a determination, before the expiration of the notice period, regarding the relocation or elimination. Sets forth criteria for relocation or elimination decisions, including the extent to which fan loyalty to and support for the club has been demonstrated.
- Full Text of The Give Fans a Chance Act of 2001 – introduced by Rep. Blumenauer, November 8, 200