Sport in United States
Proskauer Rose LLP is home to one of the premier sports practices in the nation, and is frequently instructed by all four major sports leagues and several major franchises, along with several large corporations who are looking to invest in the sports industry. The practice is jointly chaired by New York-based Joseph Leccese and Bradley Ruskin, both well-regarded practitioners specialising in transactional and litigation work respectively. In addition to the firm's corporate and litigation practices in this area, which often handle league expansions, antitrust disputes, breach of contract allegations, acquisitions, and sponsorship deals, the firm also houses a prominent sports employment practice, which primarily advises leagues in relation to collective bargaining agreements and class action litigation. Frank Saviano is another key name within the firm's transactional practice, recently acting for the Big East athletic conference in connection with The University Of Connecticut rejoining the conference.
Joseph Leccese; Bradley Ruskin
Other key lawyers:
Frank Saviano; Wayne Katz; Elise Bloom; Jon Oram; Robert Batterman
‘We use Proskauer primarily for their sports law practice, which I consider one of the best (if not the best) in the country.‘
‘The depth of experience across the sports landscape is unparalleled. Add that to the intelligence and character of the partners and it is a winning combination.‘
‘Our primary contacts are Joe Leccese, Frank Saviano and Brad Ruskin. They’re smart, responsive, well-versed with the sports business landscape and enjoyable to work with. Scott Cooper has represented us on some antitrust matters and is very capable.‘
‘The group is quite diverse in their thinking and their style. That brings a robust view at complex problems. From deals to advice, they have a very comprehensive view of how things will impact your overall business… so it is not just a transactional relationship.‘
Activision Blizzard, Inc.
ATP Tour, Inc.
BIG EAST Conference
Bruin Sports Capital
Drone Racing League
Los Angeles 2028
Madison Square Garden Co.
Major League Baseball
Major League Soccer
National Basketball Association
National Football League
National Hockey League
New York Islanders
Soccer United Marketing
The Stars Group
United States Golf Association
Women’s National Basketball Association
Women’s Tennis Association
- Represented Discovery in its groundbreaking US$2 billion+ strategic alliance with the PGA Tour to develop and launch “GOLFTV”.
- Represented the Power 5 Conferences in the trial of a high profile class action brought by current and former NCAA Division I football and basketball players, challenging the limits on compensation and benefits for student-athletes.
- Advised MLS in several matters including its expansion to Cincinnati, St. Louis and Sacramento, as well as the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement with the player’s association, and defending the league in a lawsuit brought by The North American Soccer League after it was denied Division I status.
- Successfully represented the NHL in a wrongful death case, which saw the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirm the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by the parents of Derek Boogaard, a former player for the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild.
- Represented the NBA in connection with Joe Tsai’s acquisition of a controlling interest in the Brooklyn Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov.
Covington & Burling LLP
Covington & Burling LLP has a particularly strong following among league operators and sports governing bodies, undertaking work for all four major leagues, as well as several other national and international bodies overseeing a multitude of professional sports. The firm handles a wide range of matters for such clients, with recent instructions concerning the acquisitions of major franchises, joint ventures in the sports broadcasting space, antitrust litigation, investigations, and tax law. This breadth of practice is reflected in the specialisms of the practice heads, with leadership duties split between litigator Benjamin Block, who has a strong track record in class actions and antitrust, tax specialist Jeremy Spector, and Peter Zern, who focuses primarily on transactional work including M&A, financing, and sponsorship deals among others. A major recent deal for the team on the M&A side is Zern's representation of businessman John Sherman in connection with the acquisition of the Kansas City Royals from the Glass family in a transaction reported to be worth $1bn.
Jeremy Spector; Peter Zern; Benjamin Block; Derek Ludwin
Other key lawyers:
National Football League
Major League Baseball and the MLB Network
National Basketball Association
National Hockey League
United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee
The American Athletic Conference
United States Tennis Association
John Sherman / Kansas City Royals
- Advised the Chicago Cubs in its formation of a joint venture with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which will own and operate Marquee Sports Network, a regional sports network based in Chicago.
- Represents the National Football League and NFL Properties in litigation in the New York Supreme Court against dozens of insurers regarding coverage for the head injury and concussion related claims brought against the NFL by retired players.
- Representing the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee in a variety of investigations, litigation, and other matters arising from issues related to athlete safety and investigations of sexual and other abuses of athletes, including investigations by four congressional committees.
- Represent the Los Angeles Dodgers in an antitrust litigation filed by various ticket brokers challenging changes in the Dodgers’ ticket distribution policies.
- Defending the NFL and its member clubs in a consolidated set of 27 class action antitrust suits challenging the NFL’s exclusive arrangements with DirecTV to distribute Sunday Ticket, a package of all regular season Sunday afternoon NFL games.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is highly active in the sports industry, with a practice ranging from betting and gaming advice to sponsorships and financing matters on the non-contentious side. In contentious work, the firm is particularly notable in anti-doping matters, representing athletes and coaches in relation to investigations and enforcement proceedings, in addition to representing clients in a wide range of contractual disputes. Leadership duties within the practice are split between its advisory and litigation arms, with litigators Andrew Tulumello and Maurice Suh operating from the firm's Washington DC and Los Angeles offices, while New York-based Richard Birns takes the lead on the firm's non-contentious practice. Another key area of the firm's practice is sports-related real estate and construction work, with the team receiving several recent instructions relating to the redevelopment of major stadiums, team relocations, and new construction projects, such as the Oakland Atheltics' planned Oakland Ballpark and related ancillary developments, a project on which the firm serves as lead counsel.
Richard Birns; Maurice Suh; Andrew Tulumello
Other key lawyers:
NeoPollard Interactive LLC and Pollard Banknote Limited
Klutch Sports Group, LLC
MGM Resorts International
Golden State Warriors
New York Arena Partners, LLC
- Represented Nike Oregon Project head coach and former world-class long-distance runner Alberto Salazar in an arbitration initiated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
- Lead counsel representing the Oakland A’s Major League Baseball team in its efforts to develop a new stadium and ancillary development in Oakland.
- Advised The Kroenke Group, regarding ongoing financing and development efforts, including a bridge and mezzanine loan financings, for the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District, a multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment complex
- Advised RedBird Capital Partners in its recent $3.47bn acquisition, together with Amazon, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business and Mubadala Capital, of YES Network from Disney.
- Advising The Stars Group in its multiyear partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) that will make the client an authorized gaming operator of the NBA in the U.S.
The sports practice at Latham & Watkins LLP provide a wide range of services across the spectrum of sports work, with a strong roster of specialists in sports transactions and commercial work, litigation, and IP matters including broadcast deals. Century City-based Joseph Calabrese chairs the practice, and advises a range of sports and media clients on their transactional work, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks, who he advised on the team’s equity exit from Fox Sports Arizona as part of the sale of Fox’s Regional Sports Networks. Another key member of the firm's non-contentious practice is Adam Sullins, who handles a wide range of commercial transactions such as broadcast rights deals and sponsorship matters, as well as M&A transactions and joint ventures. On the litigation side, San Francisco-based Christopher Yates is highly recommended for antitrust and complex commercial litigation, with a client list including high-profile governing bodies and federations. Russell Sauer, Jr. retired at the end of 2019, and now sits as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while M&A specialist Justin Hamill joined from the New York office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in early 2019.
‘Their range of practice is amazing… they represent media companies, rights holders (leagues and conferences/confederations), teams and players’ unions. This gives them great perspective on deals from many angles.‘
‘The work of Adam Sullins and the associates working with him is excellent. Adam ‘s specific experience in the world of soccer is particularly useful.‘
Andell Inc./Chicago Fire
AZPB Limited Partnership
Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA)
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Joe Roth/Seattle Sounders
Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC
National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA)
NFL Players Association (NFLPA)
Oakland Athletics (Oakland A’s)
Silver Lake Partners
Sinclair Broadcasting Group
United States Soccer Federation (USSF)
Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
F.C. Internazionale Milano
- Advising Sinclair Broadcast Group on the formation of a joint venture (Marquee Sports Network) with the Cubs and the license by the Network of the regional broadcast rights to Cubs games and other ancillary programming.
- Defending the Los Angeles Dodgers in connection with a sweeping and high-profile grand jury investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the D.C. US Attorney’s Office concerning alleged corruption in the recruitment and signing of international baseball players, particularly Cuban-born baseball players.
- Defending FINA, the international federation recognized as the governing body for Olympic and international aquatic sports, in a pair of high profile antitrust lawsuits, brought by the International Swimming League (“ISL”) and a putative class of Olympic and elite level swimmers, alleging that FINA conspired with its national member federations to block ISL from establishing a competing league for top-tier international swimmers.
- Representing the NCAA in a class action case brought by former student athletes, alleging that they suffered adverse consequences as a result of participating in athletics at NCAA member institutions.
- Represented Andell Inc., club owner and controlling shareholder of Chicago Fire Soccer, in the sale of its remaining 51% stake in Chicago Fire Soccer to Mansueto Sports, LLC, who became sole owners of the team in a deal worth $204m.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP's practice handles both contentious and non-contentious work for a wide range of sports sector clients, including leagues, governing bodies, and teams, though it primarily focuses on high-profile litigation work. Several prominent members of the firm's litigation department are highly active in sports-related disputes, such as Brad Karp who represents the NFL in several cases, both individual and class actions, brought by former players in relation to concussions suffered during athletes' time in the NFL. Lynn Bayard, who has also been heavily involved in the firm's work for the NFL, is another key figure on the litigation side of the team, whose key areas of work include copyright, trademark, and player health and safety. Other key recent instructions have included antitrust work, commercial transactions and contract advice, and M&A deals. In 2019, the firm saw the departure of transactional specialist Justin Hamill to Latham & Watkins LLP.
Other key lawyers:
Lynn Bayard; Chris Boehning; Theodore Wells
Authentic Brands Group LLC
Major League Soccer
National Football League
- Advised Endeavor on the merger of IMG College, Endeavor’s collegiate division, with Learfield.
- Represent FIFA in proceedings arising out of the DOJ’s investigation into bribery and corruption by football officials, including certain former individuals associated with FIFA.
- Advising MLS in relation to health and safety issues, including concussion management and treatment.
- Represent the NFL in Robinson, et al. v. NFL, et al., a lawsuit brought by the estate of former player Adrian Robinson Jr in relation to alleged cognitive impairments suffered as a result of playing in the NFL, where Robinson had retired after the deadline laid out in the class action settlement for related claims.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is home to a practice that is active in a wide range of major sports, but is perhaps best known for its strong track record advising basketball and hockey clients, for whom it broadly handles both advisory and disputes work. The wide spectrum of work undertaken by the team is reflected in its leadership, with co-chairs Anthony Dreyer and Karen Lent focusing on intellectual property and antitrust litigation respectively. In a recent highlight for the firm, Lent represented the National Collegiate Athletic Association, along with of counsel Jeffrey Mishkin, in a class action suit brought by former collegiate athletes in relation to the NCAA's grant-in-aid policies, settling in 2019 the portion of the claim relating to college attendees between 2009 and 2016. On the transactional side, corporate partner Jeffrey Brill is a name to note, having recently been involved in several of the firm's transactional matters in this space.
Anthony Dreyer; Karen Lent
- Plaintiff’s counsel for the NHL in a trademark and copyright infringement litigation brought against The Hockey Cup LLC, its owner, and related companies, after the defendant began marketing a beer stein in the shape of the Stanley Cup.
- On behalf of the Detroit Pistons successfully settled a wrongful death claim filed by the estate of a player who had suffered a heart attack while playing for the Piston’s G League team.
- Represents the NFL and New England Patriots in an arbitration brought by a player seeking to recover his signing bonus, which was withheld by the team after he was accused of sexual assault.
- Represented EZLinks Golf, a PGA TOUR affiliate, in amendments to a loan agreement with Wintrust Bank and a subordinated note purchase agreement with Providence Equity Partners.
- Represents the Brooklyn Nets in a putative class action where plaintiffs claim that the Nets’ termination of their season tickets based on their resale of those tickets is unlawful.
Winston & Strawn LLP is most notable for its strong litigation practice, acting primarily for player's unions, individual athletes, and newer sports leagues attempting to compete with established competitions. Antitrust litigation is a key component of the firm's work, with lawyers such as practice co-chair Jeffrey Kessler handling disputes involving the sanctioning of new leagues and alleged collusion between franchise owners, as well as acting for unions and individuals in several high-profile employment disputes. A key recent highlight for the firm is Kessler's representation of a class of current and former college athletes in a lawsuit alleging that NCAA restrictions on compensation in Division one football and basketball violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, which is in the appeals process following a district court victory in 2019. Kessler's fellow co-chair David Feher undertakes a wide range of litigation and arbitration work in the sports sector, as well as playing a significant role in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements and implementation thereof in both football and basketball. On the transactional side, the firm is most active in stadium development matters and related financing, where Alan Hoffman is a key figure. The firm can also draw on a strong talent pool at the more junior end, with litigator Jonathan Amoona developing a strong reputation in player's union work, and associate Adam Dale also emerging as one to watch.
Jeffrey Kessler; David Feher; David Greenspan
‘Jeffrey Kessler and his team have an incomparable depth in the area of sport law. ‘
‘Jeffrey Kessler is the most effective advocate I have seen in action. ‘
‘Jonathan Amoona is a long-time trusted advisor regarding the NFL CBA, individual NFL contacts, and more‘
- Representing the United States Women’s National Team in a class action filed in California federal court, alleging that the US Soccer Federation has engaged in wage discrimination on the basis of gender due to the discrepancies in pay between the men’s and women’s US national soccer teams.
- Represents the North American Soccer League as plaintiff in antitrust litigation against the United States Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer, alleging that the defendants have violated antitrust laws by conspiring to exclude competitor leagues from attaining division I or II status.
- Represented the National Football League Player’s Association in connection with the grievance filed under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement by Colin Kaepernick alleging collusion between the NFL and NFL Team Owners to deny him employment with a team in retaliation for protests made by Kaepernick during the national anthem.
- Represents double-amputee 400m runner Blake Leeper in connection with his eligibility dispute with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), regarding whether Leeper may compete against non-disabled athletes in IAAF-sanctioned events and the Olympics.
- Represented the lenders in connection with the €575 million loan financing and private placement of notes for the remodelling of Real Madrid’s 81,000-seat Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Arent Fox LLP
Arent Fox LLP is highly recommended for non-contentious sports matters and advises clients on a wide range of commercial deals including sponsorships, stadium management agreements, relocations, and financing. The team is led from the San Fransisco office by Richard Brand, who handles the full spectrum of commercial agreements for a range of clients including major league teams, sponsors, and stadium owners. Brand is particularly recommended for venue-related work with his strong practice in the fields of stadium leases, licensing, and management agreements. Of counsel Maidie Oliveau, who sits in Los Angeles, is also highly recommended for sports law clients, and is especially adept in arbitration matters, along with trademark protection and transactional work. New York- based Jennifer O’Sullivan is another key figure within the team and acts primarily for leagues and teams, as well as being heavily involved in the firm's growing fantasy sports and esports practices, leading the firm's work on behalf of esports league operator the Electronic Gaming Federation.
Other key lawyers:
Maidie Oliveau; Jennifer O’Sullivan; Wesley Gee
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
Electronic Gaming Federation
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment / Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles Lakers
- Represented sporting and live entertainment company AEG in connection with its management agreement for the new Oakland Raiders 65,000 seat stadium in Las Vegas.
- Advising the Electronic Gaming Federation, which organizes and operates scholastic and collegiate-level esports leagues, on a wide variety of legal issues.
- Advised Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Brooklyn Nets, in connection with the relocation of the New York Islanders to the Nassau Coliseum and the negotiation of a license agreement between BSE and the Islanders.
- Represented Japanese ecommerce and Internet company Rakuten in connection with sponsorship agreements with the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and his Ruin the Game Tour.
- Represents a number of NBA franchises, including the Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma Thunder, among others, in connection with their participation in the NBA’s League-Wide Financing.
Loeb & Loeb LLP houses a multidisciplinary team with experience in litigation, financing, corporate and commercial work, and intellectual property to provide a full service to sports sector clients. One of the key growth areas for the team is esports, where the firm acts for high-profile individuals in media rights and endorsement deals, as well as representing league operators in broadcast rights and venue licensing matters. The bicoastal practice is chaired by Arash Khalili and Brian Socolow, who are based in Los Angeles and New York respectively, both of whom are highly experienced in IP-related transactions along with a wide range of commercial work. On the contentious side, Chicago-based IP and advertising litigator Douglas Masters is highly active in the brand protection space, working with brand owners, sports leagues, and individual athletes on copyright and trademark matters. In late 2019, the firm saw the arrival of Derek Crownover, who joined the Nashville office from Dickinson Wright PLLC and handles a broad spectrum of commercial work, with a particular specialism in copyright matters.
Arash Khalili; Brian Socolow
‘They are exceptional. Quick response times. Efficient and focused approach to legal issues. Their attorneys are always knowledgeable and provide sage advice.‘
‘They give practical and pragmatic solutions that are sensitive to your specific corporate needs and approach. Doug Masters has a unique ability to cut to the core of an issue and present you with workable solutions.‘
Richard Tyler “Ninja” Blevins
Electronic Gaming Federation
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
U.S. Soccer Federation, Inc.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Turner Sports, Inc.
- Represent sports analysts Chris Carter and Todd Fuhrman and his podcast Bet the Board, in connection with their agreements with The Stars Group and partnership with Fox Bet.
- Representing the Electronic Gaming Federation in connection with its deal with Disney and ESPN Wide World of Sports to host the national interscholastic high school esports championship tournament in June 2020.
- Representing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in a lawsuit before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, brought by mobile marketing company Xooker following the NCAA’s objection to Xooker’s registration of the trademark ‘Basketball Madness’.
- Representing DAZN in connection with rights deals with professional boxers, including Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, FCC regulatory matters, and employment litigation.
- Representing U.S. Soccer Federation in a trademark opposition filed against Kwik Goal Ltd., a sporting goods manufacturer, to prevent Kwik Goal from obtaining a trademark of the proposed slogan “Official Goal of Soccer”, which would potentially outlast Kwik Goal’s current sponsorship agreement with US Soccer.
O'Melveny & Myers LLP houses a strong transactional practice with experience in M&A transactions involving sports teams, bidding processes for expansion teams, stadium development, and strategic joint ventures. The firm has solid coverage across a range of sports, with notable recent mandates coming from clients involved in soccer, ice hockey, and baseball, as well as esports, where the firm has seen several recent instructions relating to team sales and equity raises as well as league participation, an area in which Jared Bartie has distinguished himself as a key figure within the firm. Leadership of the practice is concentrated in the New York office, from which M&A specialist Charles Baker, Bartie, and Irwin Raij, whose practice includes M&A, media transactions, and stadium development, co-chair the practice. The team also contains notable litigators such as Century City-based David Marroso. He recently defended professional boxer Manny Pacquiao in a lawsuit brought by a former waiter who claims to be owed a finders fee from CBS, Pacquiao, and boxing trainer Freddie Roach, after allegedly introducing a CBS board member to Roach, who subsequently helped arrange Pacquiao's fight with Floyd Mayweather.
Charles Baker; Jared Bartie; Irwin Raij
Other key lawyers:
David Marroso; Amy Siegel
‘O’Melveny inspires full client confidence, and lawyers provide total availability and a high degree of flexibility.‘
‘O’Melveny has a very good understanding of the strategic goals of the company and its business, a huge knowledge of the sports sector applied to legal matters, and can adapt their advice in an ever-changing and challenging environment.‘
City of Miami
Dignitas/Mal Pais/New Meta Entertainment
Kansas City Royals
Portland Diamond Project
David Tepper/Carolina Panthers
- Represented certain members of the investor group that in August 2019 acquired a minority interest in MLS team Seattle Sounders FC.
- Represented Las Vegas Soccer, LLC in connection with the sale of the Las Vegas Lights, a United Soccer League franchise, to a real estate developer.
- Advising the City of Miami on its agreement with new MLS franchise Inter Miami CF to build a 25,000-seat soccer stadium and ancillary development. The stadium, to be known as Miami Freedom Park, is scheduled to be completed by 2022.
- Advised Dallas-based esports team organization Envy Gaming in a number of corporate matter, including its entry into Activision’s Call of Duty League and its reported $20m equity raise from external investors.
- Represented a consortium of investors including Jerry Bruckheimer in their successful application to launch a Seattle-based NHL franchise.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is particularly prominent within the sports world for its litigation work and handles a wide range of disputes on behalf of networks and other media properties, coaching and management staff, and individual athletes. Additionally, the firm is highly experienced in a range of labor and employment matters, both contentious and advisory, with litigator Jeffrey Klein generally taking the lead in such cases. Recent work has included high profile disputes surrounding contracts signed by athletes prior to turning professional, the legality of amateurism in college sports, and dismissals of coaching staff following serious allegations. Klein jointly leads the group along with Yehudah Buchweitz, who primarily represents the firm's media clients in their disputes with sporting companies and individuals, and Eric Hochstadt, who mainly focuses on antitrust work and class actions. All lawyers mentioned practice from the firm's New York office.
Jeffrey Klein; Yehudah Buchweitz; Eric Hochstadt
Other key lawyers:
‘The team we’ve worked with at Weil has always impressed me with their promptness, and their willingness to tackle issues with an immediacy, going so far as to do detailed work for us on holidays and weekends. I also know that when they make a call or reach out on our behalf the recipient of the communication will instantly take the matter seriously, and that’s important to us because of the nature of our work.‘
‘The individuals we’ve worked with at Weil, including Jeff Klein and Gary Friedman, have absolute standouts in the matters they’ve assisted us with. Beyond their outstanding credentials, they both have extremely long reach in the legal marketplace, meaning when we’ve needed expertise in ancillary matters, they’ve been able to connect us with exactly the type firm or individual to meet our needs. They are both on our “first call” list for outside legal assistance.‘
Creative Artists Agency
Former University of Maryland head football coach DJ Durkin
Former MLB All-Star Barry Bonds
Providence Equity Partners
Entercom (f/k/a CBS Radio)
Major League Baseball Players Association
- Representing NBA #1 draft pick Zion Williamson in connection with two parallel litigations in North Carolina federal court and Florida state court – with in excess of $100m in potential damages – arising out of a marketing contract he entered into prior to going pro.
- Advising Major League Baseball Players Association in its joint venture with the National Football League Players Association and Redbird Capital to form OneTeam Partners, LLC, which will provide advocacy services to athletes, helping them maximize the value of their name, image and likeness rights.
- Advising CBS in a dispute with the Alliance of American Football and Ebersol Sports Media Group following its filing of Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Representing CBS in connection with the “grant-in-aid” antitrust litigation commenced by current and former NCAA athletes targeting NCAA caps, successfully avoiding the disclosure of unredacted broadcast agreements with various college athletics conferences.
Arnold & Porter is involved in a wide range of both advisory and contentious work within the sports sector, acting primarily for high-profile leagues and teams, and is particularly active in baseball, football, and basketball. Following the retirement of former practice co-head Robert Garrett in 2019, litigators Dan Cantor and Daniel Asimow, the latter of whom specialises in antitrust work, joined New York-based Scott Lent in chairing the sports group, operating from the Washington DC and San Francisco offices respectively. Intellectual property matters are another key component of the firm's work in this sector, with a strong track record in broadcast copyright matters, in addition to trademark prosecution and litigation, and licensing. San Francisco-based David Reis focuses on employment litigation and represents sports clients in both individual disputes and class actions.
Scott Lent; Dan Cantor; Daniel Asimow
Other key lawyers:
Major League Baseball (MLB)
National Basketball Association (NBA)
National Football League (NFL)
National Hockey League (NHL)
The Oakland Raiders
Golden State Warriors
Professional Golfers Association (PGA)
- Lead counsel for the Raiders in a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by the City of Oakland against the NFL and its 32 teams alleging that the League ignored its own relocation policies in approving the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.
- Representing Joint Sports Claimants, a consortium comprised of several major leagues, college leagues, and women’s leagues in a series of disputes and regulatory proceedings concerning the royalties paid for retransmitted sports programming and distribution thereof.
- Handling a wide variety of legal work for the Professional Golfer’s Association, including intellectual property, litigation, and employment matters.
- Advise MLB on various copyright and telecommunications issues involving the telecasting of MLB games over traditional and new media, including the internet and mobile devices
New York firm Herrick, Feinstein LLP advises clients on M&A transactions, commercial contracts and broadcast rights matters but also handles disputes, including class actions. The firm is particularly prominent in the field of sports broadcasting, advising leagues, promotions, and individual teams in connection with their broadcast rights deals, as well as advising major franchises on broadcast joint ventures and network ownership. Notably, the firm represented Yankee Global Enterprises, the parent company of the New York Yankees, in its participation in a consortium of investors which acquired 80% of the YES Network, the remainder of which the Yankees already owned, from The Walt Disney Company in a deal which valued the network at $3.47bn. The practice is jointly led by Irwin Kishner, who provides a wide range of services including compliance counselling, transactional advice, and the negotiation of commercial contracts, and Daniel Etna, who is recommended for stadium development and financing, joint ventures, and broadcast agreements. Eric Stabler co-heads the firm's finance practice, and advises several sports industry clients on their financing work.
Irwin Kishner; Daniel Etna
Other key lawyers:
Eric Stabler; Liliana Chang; Briana Meginniss
‘Big enough to attract great talent, small enough to be entrepreneurial. Specializes in sports which is why we hired them. ‘
‘Irwin Kishner runs the firm but still treats us like his most important client. Joel Wegman is terrific in execution, he closed a big deal for us and worked around the clock for us up against deal deadlines.‘
‘Responsive, always available, with a good knowledge of all current issues.‘
New York Yankees; Yankee Global Enterprises; Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network
New York Racing Association
New York Islanders Hockey Club
Legends Hospitality Management, LLC
New York Mets; Sterling Equities; Sterling Entertainment Enterprises
The Renaissance Companies, Inc.
New York Jets LLC
Pro Football Hall of Fame Village
Top Rank, Inc.
R. Jason Plummer and Robert L. Plummer
Phoenix Sports Partners LLC
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Anthony and Erika Riccardi
Fulltime Fantasy Sports LLC
Barstool Sports, Inc.
Memphis Basketball LLC
- Advising the New York Islanders Hockey Club in several matters connected to the development of the Islanders’ new arena complex at Belmont Park Racetrack, including sponsorship deals and service agreements.
- Represents a fantasy sports platform in a New York federal court action against a subsidiary of a large US media conglomerate, which included claims of trademark infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and breach of an online publishing contract in a matter involving fantasy sports production and promotions.
- Represents Anthony and Erika Riccardi, private investors, in the establishment of a baseball development clinic in southern Florida.
- Represented Phoenix Sports Partners in several transactions, including its acquisition of football analytics platform Atavus Football.
- Successfully represented the New York Jets LLC and Jets Stadium Development, LLC in connection with a New Jersey class action brought by a fan regarding the club’s decision to sell season tickets without a license.
Chicago-based Adam Klein heads the sports group at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP which acts for a range of clients including major franchises, investors, sponsors, and stadium owners, covering a broad spectrum of commercial and corporate work. The firm has seen several recent instructions in the field of stadium development, including project financing, planning, facilities management agreements, and other commercial contracts both for stadiums themselves and ancillary commercial developments. While Klein is the firm's key contact in this sector, the practice group draws on a wide range of specialists from across the firm who provide advice on tax, employment, and intellectual property matters. M&A transactions are another key area of work for the firm, with Klein handling several recent sales and acquisitions of both full and partial stakes in major franchises, both on the corporate side and in obtaining league approvals. Associate Daniel Render is also recommended, and is developing a solid practice across the sector, particularly in relation to sponsorship matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is exceptional in its efforts, knowledge and ability to work together to deliver top tier legal advice in any field one might need in an efficient manner.‘
‘Adam Klein is an exceptional partner at Katten who has quarter-backed fantastic teams of partners and associates to service all needs of my clients during a transaction.‘
‘His ability to translate what is needed for the business deal, current and future, into what is needed for the legal protection, is second to none. He anticipates the needs of the business and clients involved incredibly well.‘
Golden State Warriors and Chase Center
Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum
Sacramento Kings and Golden One Center
David Bonderman, NHL Seattle Expansion Team
Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and United Center
Oakland Athletics and San Jose Earthquakes
Philadelphia Union and Talen Energy Stadium
Gabe Plotkin (Investor Group in Charlotte Hornets)
Silver Chalice Ventures / Stadium
Kansas City Royals
St. Louis Blues
Pixiu Sports (Investor Group in Austin FC)
- Represented a buyer group led by TPG Capital founder David Bonderman in its successful bid to acquire a National Hockey League expansion team.
- Represented the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks in connection with the launch of the new NBC Sports Chicago regional sports network, including new telecast rights agreements, a joint venture agreement with NBC Sports, a distribution agreement with Comcast Cable and obtaining MLB, NBA and NHL approval.
- Represented the owners of the Kansas City Royals (the Glass family) in connection with its sale of the team, which included negotiating the purchase agreement and obtaining MLB approval for the transaction.
- Represented a buyer group led by Gabe Plotkin in its acquisition of a significant minority stake in the Charlotte Hornets. This included equity and debt financing, acquisition and joint venture documents and obtaining NBA approval.
- Katten represented Aon in its long term sponsorship of the Ryder Cup.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is emerging as a notable firm within the sports sector, and is establishing itself in the market following the practice's creation in 2017. The team is led by Orange-county based Jeffrey Moorad, who is particularly notable for his large network within sports and related industries, as well as Jack Concannon, located in Boston, who focuses on corporate and finance matters with a particular focus on team M&A. San Francisco- based Baird Fogel is also highly recommended, handling a wide range of matters including service procurements for sports stadiums, sponsorship agreements, compliance, and media partnerships. The firm has recently expanded the range of services it offers in this area, with the arrival of several new employment practitioners including Susan Harthill, who joined following a period of service within the department of Labor as the Deputy Solicitor of Labor for National Operations, along with the arrival of restructuring specialist Kurt Mayr, who joined the firm's Hartford office from Bracewell LLP.
Jeffrey Moorad; Jack Concannon
‘Morgan, Lewis & Bockius have provided first in class service, attention and legal capabilities throughout our partnership thus far.‘
‘The team, led by Baird Fogel and Jeff Moorad, supply transparent and prompt insight and crucial strategic guidance.‘
‘Jeff Moorad has the best network anywhere; he is a deal maker and connector.‘
‘Dave McManus – you want this guy on your team; great judgment; does the work and goes as deep as anyone to understand the problem, your business and how to find a simple solution even when the issue is very complex.‘
BIG3 Basketball LLC
Hartford Sports Group
Madison Square Garden
MSP Sports Capital
Ultimate Fighting Championship
- Assisted BIG3 Basketball LLC in several corporate transactions, including its $13m Series A-2 preferred unit financing.
- Advised MSP Sports Capital, a newly formed sports fund with targeted investments in sports-related properties, in connection with fund formation and related matters.
- Served as US counsel to a US investor group in connection with a joint venture to acquire Spanish football club Agrupacion Deportiva Alcorcón.
- Led sponsorship negotiations for Stewart-Haas Racing (and its Formula 1 team).
- Represented James Harden and his company 13 Endeavors LLC in the acquisition of a minority ownership interest in the Houston Dynamo, an MLS franchise, along with the Houston Dash, a Women’s MLS franchise, and BBVA Compass Stadium.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Litigation is the watchword at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, which counts high-profile individual athletes, franchise owners, governing bodies, and teams among its client list and receives a wide range of instructions on both the plaintiff and defendant sides. Although the firm is highly active in general commercial litigation and breach of contract cases, it is perhaps more notable for its work in more specialized areas of litigation, with recent instructions involving trademark invalidation, fraud, and broadcast royalties, along with more sports-specific work such as claims brought by former coaching staff seeking a cut of athletes' earnings. The firm is also active in the field of internal investigations, helping clients to resolve employment, corruption, and consumer protection-related issues. Practice leadership is divided between the New York And DC offices, with IP and marketing specialist Robert Raskopf and the white collar and investigations-focused Alex Spiro operating from the former, while fellow white collar specialists William Burck and Richard Smith are based in the latter.
William Burck; Robert Raskopf; Richard Smith; Alex Spiro
Other key lawyers:
Ellyde Thompson; Tara Lee; Sandra Moser; Scott Lerner
Naomi Osaka, Mari Osaka, Leonard Francois
United States Soccer Federation Foundation, Inc. (“U.S. Soccer Foundation”)
Washington Nationals Baseball Club
Super Slam Limited
- Represented world tennis champion Naomi Osaka in a lawsuit filed by her former tennis coach in Broward County Circuit Court, which sought 20% of her tennis earnings after she won the U.S. Open and Australian Open in 2018.
- Successfully represented the Washington Nationals Baseball Club in a long-running dispute with the Baltimore Orioles and the regional sports television network MASN, concerning the fees owed by MASN to the Nationals for broadcast rights in the 2012-2016 period.
- Representing the U.S. Soccer foundation as plaintiff in a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, filed after the Federation demanded that the Foundation cease its use of the name US Soccer Foundation and its logos.