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NEW YORK CITY-United States District Court Judge Harold Baer has set a trial date of August 2006 for a lawsuit filed by the New York Jets that alleged Cablevision, the owner of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act, committed tortious interference and engaged in deceptive acts and practices. The judge granted Cablevision’s motion to dismiss regarding a claim of public misrepresentations. The Jet’s bid to construct the New York Sports and Convention Center along the West Side Rail Yards was defeated earlier this year.

“This is overall a resounding victory for the Jets,” New York Jets attorney David Boies says. “The court has reaffirmed that monopolists, like Cablevision, cannot, without further scrutiny, hide behind political protection doctrines and free speech rights to immunize their anticompetitive conduct.”

“The West Side stadium matter was resolved in June,” a Madison Square Garden spokesperson says. “The MTA has taken the land back from the Jets, the people of New York have moved on and it is time for the Jets and their lawyers to move on too.”

In the decision Judge Baer wrote, “If it becomes apparent that Cablevision indeed sought to acquire the West Side Rail yard for its own development project, defendants will likely be entitled to protection under Noerr-Pennington. However, if the Jets can establish that Cablevision never intended to acquire the property, but submitted a bid only to impede the Jets’ progress, immunity will be unavailable.” The Noerr-Pennington doctrine was set by the Supreme Court in a pair of cases which suggested that under the First Amendment, it cannot be a violation of the federal antitrust laws for competitors to lobby the government to change the law in a way that would reduce competition.

According to the suit, the Jets spent more than $50 million in pursuit of a stadium. And in 2002, the Jets and Cablevision contemplated constructing the “Trisport” facility which would have housed the Jets, Knicks, and Rangers, and also provided entertainment and convention space. However, according to the Jets, Cablevision “abandoned” that project in early 2003.For additional information about the legal battle between the Jets and Cablevision, click here.

In other Jets news, the team has hired Cohn Real Estate to find a site of 20 acres or more in New Jersey on which the team would build a new headquarters and training complex. For additional information, click here.

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