Professional and collegiate sports teams have a cadre of professionals throughout their organizations working hard to support the athletes, manage budgets, oversee extensive operations, market and promote the teams, adhere to strict and evolving rules and regulations, stay innovative, and address a range of legal and personnel issues. From owners, coaches, athletes, trainers and scouts to professionals in finance, sales, facilities, marketing, and human resources, they collectively support the organization’s goal of operating profitably and efficiently while striving to win games.

Advising on a wide variety of legal matters, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys represent clients across the sports spectrum, including professional sports teams in leagues such as the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL as well as university sports teams and collegiate athletic organizations. We also advise developers and operators of sports facilities and surrounding entertainment centers. We are well-versed in the nuances of matters from the front office down to the field, court or ice and beyond, including in these areas:

Corporate

  • General corporate – commercial agreements, governance, partnership matters, new ventures in areas such as esports, and various front-office matters
  • Financing – debt and equity capital-raising transactions; and sports stadium financing through public private partnerships (P3), EB-5 offerings and tax-exempt bonds
  • Mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures and strategic alliances
  • Investments – fund formation and investment opportunities on behalf of sports teams, private equity funds, venture capital funds, wealth funds, strategic investors and family offices
  • Sports sponsorships – event contracts, broadcast agreements and naming rights
  • Sports broadcasting agreements between on-air professionals and media outlets
  • Tax – domestic and international tax planning and Internal Revenue Service inquiries and disputes

Real Estate, including the purchase and sale of land, financing, development, land use rights, zoning, leasing, and appeals

Construction, including the development of arenas and stadiums and surrounding entertainment centers

Intellectual property, including matters related to trademarks, patents, licensing and merchandising

Professional sports rules and regulations, including evaluating league rules and regulations and advising on how they impact various professional sports activities

Collegiate compliance rules, including evaluating compliance rules of the NCAA and conferences, such as Big 12 and Division III, and advising on how they impact various collegiate athletic activities 

Litigation, including player trade disputes, class actions and breach-of-contract disputes, and NCAA inquiries and disputes

Labor and employment, including employment agreements, employee handbook/policy requirements, athlete handbooks, collective bargaining agreements, and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) matters

Securities, including representing participants in the industry with federal securities law issues

Employee benefits and executive compensation

Cybersecurity and data privacy

Immigration, including employment-based visas

Estate planning, including business succession planning

 

Click on the links below for overviews of our work in these areas:

Experience

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys advised on these select sports-related representations:

  • Professional Sports
    An NBA team in winning an exterior advertising display dispute with the landlord of a nearby professional baseball team’s stadium.
    An MLB franchise in a public records case defending its right to maintain as private its confidential financial information.
    A Division I collegiate athletic conference in establishing its charitable foundation.
    An NFL team in connection with various corporate, governance and employment matters.
    An NBA team in the successful settlement of a trade dispute with another NBA team.
    An NBA team in the successful settlement of a class action filed by season ticketholders as a result of it moving to an electronic platform for ticketing.
    An NHL team in assisting with negotiating and documenting a wide range of commercial contracts, including sponsorship and partnership arrangements, suite license agreements, and operational/professional support agreements (including IT and software licensing).
    An NHL team in inbound and outbound licensing, marketing, and information technology matters covering all aspects of team and stadium operations. Recent engagements include negotiation of ticketing services agreements and licensing of digital scoreboard content.
    An archival services company in the creation of its core professional team agreement and in its negotiation of the agreement with a Major League Baseball team. The agreement allows the company to help the team monetize many of its heritage assets through a sponsorship program.
    An investment entity in preparing and negotiating EB-5 offering documents and handling other corporate work related to the renovation of the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The project involves the renovation of the football stadium and the construction of related facilities for retail, hospitality, sports medicine and rehabilitation.
    An investment entity in preparing and negotiating EB-5 offering documents and handling other corporate work related to the master planned development project for LA Stadium. This project incorporates a multi-purpose stadium with fixed seating capacity of up to 80,000 for professional sports, concerts and other entertainment uses; an ancillary, multi-purpose, enclosed performance venue of up to 6,000 fixed seats; up to 890,000 square feet of retail uses; up to approximately 780,000 square feet of office space; up to 300 hotel rooms; up to 2,500 new residential units; and approximately 25 acres of public parks, open space, and pedestrian and bicycle access.
    A convention and visitors bureau in negotiating the arrangement for an NFL draft event.
  • Collegiate Sports
    A Pennsylvania college in assisting with an investigation and response to potential NCAA violations.
    A university in securing trademarks for its sports teams’ mascot and enforcing the trademarks.
    A West Virginia university in self-reporting NCAA violations.
    A chief operating officer of an NFL team in negotiating and documenting his employment agreement to serve as commissioner of a collegiate athletic conference for a five-year term.
    A Louisiana university in complying with a document request in connection with an NCAA concussion class action settlement.
    A university in obtaining a temporary restraining order against vendors who do not have a license to sell merchandise with the team logo and seize goods.
    A Pennsylvania university in responding to a subpoena in connection with NCAA grant-in-aid litigation.
    A Pennsylvania university in connection with NCAA Consent Decree compliance.
  • Developers/Operators of Sports Facilities/Surrounding Entertainment Centers
    International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in its 2019 merger with NASCAR Holdings, Inc. and Nova Merger Sub, Inc., with ISC becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of NASCAR. International Speedway owns and operates 13 racetracks and motorsports facilities, including Daytona International Speedway in Florida, home of the Daytona 500 race, and Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
    An international real estate developer on governmental permits and approvals in connection with the master plan of a large-scale retail and entertainment center in a sports stadium complex , and also on the later expansion and renovation of the project.
    A real estate development and entertainment operating company in providing comprehensive real estate transaction support and advising on land use matters for the $50 million construction project of a dedicated esports arena in Philadelphia.
    A motor sports promoter and operator in the acquisition of a NYSE-listed sports memorabilia company.
    A motor sports promoter and operator in negotiating a joint venture with a major U.S. gaming operator to own and operate a joint gaming and motor sports facility.
    A motor sports promoter and operator in the sale of New York City real estate.
    A university in negotiating sports ticketing agreements with Ticketmaster, StubHub and Paciolan.
    A university in negotiating pouring rights agreements with Pepsi across the campus, including its sports stadium.
    A college and a university in Pennsylvania and a university in Delaware in negotiating concession and food services agreements across the campus, including its sports facilities.
    A Pennsylvania university in negotiating all the agreements pertaining to an anniversary rivalry football game played in Yankee Stadium, including the stadium license agreement with the Yankees and the broadcast agreement with CBS Sports.
  • Sports Broadcasting
    A play-by-play announcer in connection with multiple contract negotiations with Comcast/NBC Sports for his role as a Philadelphia Sixers play-by-play announcer.
    On-air talent for the Philadelphia Phillies in connection with his contract negotiation with Comcast and the Phillies.
    A main anchor on Philadelphia Comcast SportsNet (now NBC Sports Philadelphia) in connection with multiple contract negotiations with Comcast.
    An on-air commentator and analyst for the Golf Channel in connection with his contract negotiation with NBC Sports and the Golf Channel.
    A producer of Major League Baseball and College Football broadcasts on ESPN in connection with his contract negotiation with ESPN.
    A prime on-air anchor for the Golf Channel in connection with his contract negotiation with NBC Sports and the Golf Channel.
 

Recognition

The group includes attorneys who have received the following recognition:

Trade Groups & Associations

Contacts

Alfred W. Coleman
Michael A. Gold
Alain M. Baudry