Acquisitions and Sales of Sports Franchises
Arent Fox attorneys have advised clients in connection with the acquisition and sale of a number of professional sports franchises and properties, including the following:
- Washington Professional Sports Franchises: Representation of the owners of Washington Sports & Entertainment Limited Partnership in connection with the sale of all of its interests in the Washington Capitals, the Washington Mystics, the Washington Wizards, Verizon Center, and the Washington-Baltimore Ticketmaster franchise to Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
- Charlotte Hornets: Representation of the initial owner of the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise in connection with its acquisition, and subsequent sale, of the franchise.
- Tampa Bay Rays: Representation of the current owner of the Tampa Bay Rays in connection with its acquisition of a controlling interest in this MLB franchise.
Sports Media and Technology
Arent Fox attorneys have advised clients in connection with the negotiation, implementation and regulation of media arrangements involving traditional communications arrangements with network and cable TV, radio broadcasts, and licensing and syndication of digital and interactive media rights as well as the Internet and related media providers. Representative transactions include the following:
- Los Angeles Lakers: Representation of Los Angeles Lakers in the negotiation of a 20-year agreement with Time Warner Cable for rights to distribute all locally available pre-season, regular season, and post-season Lakers games on two regional sports networks, including the nation’s first Spanish-language regional sports network, beginning in the 2012-2013 season.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Representation of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the negotiation of a long term exclusive media rights agreement with the Fox Sports owned Sun Sports regional sports network.
- Los Angeles Galaxy: Representing the Los Angeles Galaxy in connection with its 10-year media rights agreement with Time Warner Cable for distribution of its locally available pre-season, regular season, and post-season games on its English and Spanish regional sports networks.
- Los Angeles Kings: Representing the Los Angeles Kings in connection with the renewal of its existing media rights agreement with Fox Sports Net West for distribution of its locally available pre-season, regular season, and post-season games.
- California Interscholastic Federation (CIF): Representation of the California Interscholastic Federation, one of the largest youth sports organizations in the nation, in its transaction with Time Warner Cable by which Time Warner Cable will become the official content distributor of CIF Regional and State Championship sports programming throughout the State of California beginning in the 2011-2012 season.
- Charlotte Hornets: Representation of the Charlotte Hornets in the negotiation of an exclusive media rights agreement with Fox Sports.
- Washington Wizards: Representation of the Washington Wizards in the negotiation of broadcast agreements for radio and television broadcasts.
- Charlotte Hornets: Representation of the Charlotte Hornets in the development of a regional sports network and an entertainment company for non-basketball-related events.
- Fox Broadcasting: Representation of Fox Broadcasting in connection with media rights issues related to its acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
- CineSport: Representation of CineSport, the producer and distributor of daily sports highlights, in the negotiation of agreements with numerous local media affiliates and content licensors.
- Detroit Pistons: Representation of the Detroit Pistons in the negotiation of an exclusive media rights agreement with Fox Sports.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Representation of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the negotiation of its inaugural media rights agreements with various local television and radio networks.
- The Tennis Channel: Representation of the Tennis Channel in the acquisition of rights to two Grand Slam tournaments, Roland-Garros, and the related media rights agreement with the French Tennis Federation as well as the US Open and related transactions involving ESPN.
- New York Jets: Representation of the New York Jets in connection with an infomercial featuring Curtis Martin for the sale of the Bio Force Gym.
- America Online: Representation of America Online in the negotiation of a marketing arrangement among America Online, the National Football League, CBS Broadcasting, and Sportsline.
- America Online: Representation of America Online in the negotiation of the marketing arrangement among America Online, NASCAR, and Turner Sports.
- Spirits of St. Louis: Representation of the former ABA team in the financing of its television rights based upon what is considered as one of the best sports deals in modern times.
Naming Rights and Sponsorships
Arent Fox attorneys have advised clients in connection with naming rights transactions and sponsorship agreements, including the following:
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Representation of Mercedes-Benz in a naming rights and sponsorship transaction with the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United FC for Atlanta's new iconic stadium that is slated to open in 2017. The agreement is the largest marketing deal in Mercedes-Benz history.
- Golden 1 Center: Representation of Golden 1 Credit Union in a naming rights and sponsorship transaction with the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings for the new entertainment and sports center slated to open in fall 2016.
- San Francisco 49ers: Representation of the San Francisco 49ers in a naming rights and sponsorship transaction with Levi Strauss & Co, which makes Levi Strauss & Co.the most prominent stadium sponsor of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the 49ers, and designates the name Levi’s Stadium for the team’s new home being built in Santa Clara and is reported to be the largest naming rights and sponsorship transaction in the history of the West Coast.
- Barclays Center: Representation of Brooklyn Arena LLC and the New Jersey (currently Brooklyn) Nets in connection with the Barclays Center naming rights transaction, the largest arena naming rights and team sponsorship transaction in the history of sports and entertainment.
- Time Warner Cable Arena: Representation of the Charlotte Hornets in connection with the Time Warner Cable Center arena naming rights and the team sponsorship transaction.
- PPL EnergyPlus: Representation of PPL EnergyPlus in the naming rights and sponsorship transaction pursuant to which PPL EnergyPlus became the primary sponsor of the Philadelphia Union MLS franchise and holder of the naming rights for the stadium located in Chester, Pennsylvania known as PPL Park.
- MCI Center/Verizon Center: Representation of the Washington Wizards and DC Arena LP in connection with the initial MCI Center naming rights transaction, the renaming of the MCI Center to Verizon Center, and with various sponsorship agreements, advertising agreements, and promotional agreements.
- AT&T Park: Representation of Pacific Telesis, the predecessor to AT&T, in the negotiation of the naming rights for the Major League Baseball stadium privately built as the home of the San Francisco Giants.
- Alltech: Representation of Alltech in connection with the title sponsorship agreement for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, located in Lexington, Kentucky, the largest equestrian sporting event ever held in the United States.
- DC United: Representation of DC United in connection with certain sponsorship transactions.
- NHL Enterprises: Representation of NHLE in the negotiation of numerous sponsorship transactions, including the Ticketmaster sponsorship.
- United States Tennis Association: Representation of the USTA in connection with various sponsorship transactions related to the US Open.
- Seiko Epson: Representation of Seiko Epson in its acquisition of worldwide sponsorship and local media rights to Manchester United of the English Premier League.
Arenas and Stadiums
Arent Fox attorneys have advised clients in connection with the acquisition, development and operation of arenas and stadiums, including the following:
- Odebrecht/Consortium Maracana SA: Representation of Brazilian construction group, Odebrecht in connection with its long term agreement with Consortium Maracana SA (which includes sports and entertainment company IMX and sports and entertainment group AEG) to operate the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and advised Consortium Maracana in connection with certain other stadium related agreements.
- Barclays Center: Representation of Brooklyn Arena LLC in a deal to move the New York Islanders to the Barclays Center.
- Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment: Representation of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment in its recent multi-year Agreement with AEG Facilities to provide operational support at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets’ arena in Brooklyn, New York.
- Barclays Center: Representation of Brooklyn Arena LLC and the New Jersey (currently Brooklyn) Nets in connection with the development of the new sports and entertainment facility known as the Barclays Center, including sponsorship agreements, suite licensing agreements, the food and beverage/concession agreement, and miscellaneous arena-related matters.
- Verizon Center: Representation of Washington Sports & Entertainment Limited Partnership and its related entities in the acquisition and development of Verizon Center (formerly MCI Center), the downtown DC sports arena that is home to the Washington Wizards, the Washington Mystics, the Washington Capitals, and the Georgetown Hoyas.
- Time Warner Cable Arena: Representation of Bobcats Basketball LLC and its related entities in the development and leasing of the Time Warner Cable Arena, located in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is the home of the Charlotte Hornets.
- Maryland SoccerPlex: Representation of a private soccer foundation that runs an athletic complex on state and county park land in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the negotiation of the long-term ground lease and cost sharing arrangements with local government agencies as well as in connection with the financing and construction of the complex and the resolution of various legislative issues.
- PPL Park: Representation of the developer of PPL Park, home of the MLS franchise Philadelphia Union, in connection with the contracts for project management services, design, and construction of PPL Park.
Team Financing and Arena and Stadium Financing
Arent Fox attorneys have advised clients in connection with various financings, through public and private means, relating to the acquisition of professional sports teams and the development of arenas and stadiums, and the refinancing of teams, arenas, and stadiums, including the following:
- Representation of an NBA team in connection with its participation in the NBA League Wide Credit Facility.
- Verizon Center and Washington Wizards: Representation of Washington Sports & Entertainment Limited Partnership, DC Arena LP, and the Washington Wizards in connections with various financings, refinancings, and credit facilities, including with respect to Verizon Center and the Wizards’ participation in the initial NBA League Wide Financing Facility and numerous supplements and modifications to such Facility.
- Charlotte Hornets: Representation of the Charlotte Hornets in connection with various credit facilities, including participation in the NBA League Wide Financing Facility.
- Atlanta Hawks: Representation of the Atlanta Hawks in connection with participation in the NBA League Wide Credit Facility.
- USTA National Tennis Center: Representation of USTA National Tennis Center in connection with bond financing transactions that provided capital for improvements to the facility currently known as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Labor and Employment
Arent Fox attorneys negotiate players’ contracts, coaches’ contracts, key executive contracts, and contracts for related sports personnel and provide counsel on salary cap issues, collective bargaining agreement issues, and other labor issues. We also provide services related to grievances, arbitration, and litigation matters. Our experience with labor and employment matters includes the following:
- Toronto FC: Representation of Kevin Payne in connection with his move from DC United to President and General Manager of the Toronto FC professional soccer team, a member of Major League Soccer.
- Toronto FC: Representation of Ryan Nelson in connection with his appointment as Head Coach of the Toronto FC professional soccer team, a member of Major League Soccer.
- Toronto FC: Representation of Fran O’Leary in connection with his appointment as Assistant Coach and Director of Player Recruitment of the Toronto FC professional soccer team, a member of Major League Soccer.
- Washington Wizards: Representation of the Washington Wizards in the preparation and negotiation of various player, coaching and front-office executive contracts, player trades, interpretation of the collective bargaining agreements, salary cap analysis, and related NBA matters and provide advice on various employment law issues. In addition, Arent Fox attorneys represented the Washington Wizards in the employment-related transactions with Michael Jordan, appointing him as president of basketball operations and subsequently transitioning him to serve as a player for the Washington Wizards.
- DC United: Representation of DC United in connection with player, coaching, and executive contracts and related matters and provide advice on various employment law issues.
- Washington Mystics: Representation of the Washington Mystics in the preparation and negotiation of various player, coaching, and front office executive contracts; interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement; salary cap analysis and related WNBA matters.
- Charlotte Hornets: Representation of the Charlotte Hornets on employment issues and prepared and negotiated all of the initial employment contracts with the management of the team, including the coach and general manager.
- United States Tennis Association: Representation of the USTA with respect to various employment issues, including executive compensation matters.
- Baltimore Arena: Representation of operator of arena in OSHA proceedings.
- George Mason Patriot Center: Representation of operator of the Patriot Center in union-management relations.
Arent Fox attorneys have substantial experience with the NCAA and university athletics. Representative matters include the following:
- Mountain West Conference/Boise State: Representation of the Mountain West Conference and Boise State University in connection with a wide variety of issues relating to the Bowl Championship Series.
- College Basketball: Representation of an arena operator in connection with the hosting of the following events:
- 2008 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Basketball Tournament (men’s and women’s divisions)
- 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament
- 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, East Regional
- Sugar Bowl: Representation of the Sugar Bowl in its negotiations with USF&G as its initial title sponsor and with subsequent title sponsors, Nokia and Allstate.
- Sugar Bowl: Representation of the Sugar Bowl in connection with the presentations to, and negotiations with, the commissioners of the Division I-A (now termed Football Bowl Subdivision) college football conferences for what became known as the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and handled all related agreements and issues from negotiation to implementation.
- Sugar Bowl: Representation of the Sugar Bowl in connection with television rights agreements with ABC and handled all related issues with ABC, including licensing disputes.
- Pac-10 Properties: Representation of Pac-10 Properties in its negotiations with AEG for the hosting of its inaugural, season ending basketball championship at Staples Center.
Litigation, Arbitration and Dispute Resolution
Arent Fox attorneys have a wide range of experience in matters relating to litigation, arbitration, and dispute resolutions, including the following:
- Court of Arbitration for Sport: Serving as an arbitrator on the Court of Arbitration for Sport since 1997 on multiple cases and appointed to serve for four Olympic Games as part of its ad hoc division.
- American Arbitration Association: Serving on the sports and international panels of the American Arbitration Association and handling numerous commercial arbitrations and cases brought under the US Anti-Doping Agency protocol and the US Olympic Committee Code of Conduct, both as a sole arbitrator and as part of a three member tribunal.
- London Court of International Arbitration: Serving on the panel of London Court of International Arbitration arbitrators.
- Mediation: Serving as a mediator in a multi-party dispute involving exclusive sponsorship arrangements and antitrust claims.
- Washington Capitals: Representation of the Capitals in administrative and appellate litigation concerning workers’ compensation claims by NHL and minor league players.
- Washington Capitals: Representation of the Capitals in arbitrations involving grievances by the NHL Players Association under the collective bargaining agreement and standard players contract.
- Washington Wizards: Representation of the Wizards in administrative proceedings and on insurance coverage issues concerning workers’ compensation claims by former NBA players.
- Verizon Center: Representation of DC Arena LP, the operator of the Verizon Center, in union-management relations, collective bargaining, employment disputes and litigation, and civil rights claims involving public accommodations issues.
- US Airways Arena: Representation of the operator of the US Airways Arena in union-management relations, collective bargaining, employment disputes and litigation, and civil rights claims involving public accommodations issues.