Companies in the sports industry rely on fierce competitiveness, smart business strategy and seamless collaboration to grow and thrive. They also rely on outside legal counsel they can trust to advise them with respect to various important transactions and other matters. Katten offers legal services to a wide array of participants in the sports industry, including MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS teams, prospective owners, arena and stadium developers and operators, financial institutions, regional sports networks, government entities, universities, NASCAR-related parties and corporate sponsors. Our attorneys' sports industry work includes:
- Purchase and sale of sports franchises
- Debt and equity financings
- Television and radio broadcast agreements
- Arena/stadium construction, financing and operations, including ticketing arrangements, concession deals, event agreements and suite licenses
- Sponsorship agreements, including naming-rights deals
- Head coach, general manager and executive employment agreements
- Compliance with league rules and developments in league policies
- Intellectual property and Internet issues
- Litigation and related investigative matters
A trusted name in sports
Katten is proud to have served as outside general counsel for the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls since their acquisition by Jerry Reinsdorf in the 1980s, and the firm also serves as outside general counsel for the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Oakland A's, Philadelphia Union, San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas. The firm also represents the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and D.C. United, among others.
"Represents a number of key players in the market with respect to sporting arena developments, media rights deals, financing and broadcasting. Also assists clients on regulatory matters such as compliance with league regulations."
Chambers USA 2019
(Nationwide, Sports Law) survey response
- Represented purchaser in acquiring the new NHL team in Seattle. Negotiated and documented the expansion agreement, equity financing, debt financing and various agreements related to the development and financing of the arena that is being renovated and will serve as the team's new venue, including the arena joint venture and team lease agreement, as well as the NHL's approval of the transactions. Represent the team in sponsorships and premium seating, as well as the purchase of an AHL team in Palm Springs that will be affiliated with the NHL team.
- Represented Milwaukee Bucks in various agreements with the Wisconsin Center District, City of Milwaukee, County of Milwaukee and a financial institution related to the design, construction, development, financing, use, operation and management of the team's new arena (Fiserv Forum), parking facilities and practice facility, as well as obtaining NBA approval of the arena project and arena construction loan. Also represent the team in sponsorship agreements (including naming rights agreements for the arena and practice facility) and acquisition of Gatorade League (formerly known as NBA Development League) team (Wisconsin Herd) and the arena in its concession agreements. Represented the Bucks in new rights agreement for the broadcast of its games on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
- Represented purchaser of a majority interest in D.C. United and the operating rights to Audi Field. Negotiated and documented the equity financing, debt financing, acquisition and MLS approval.
- Represented Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs in negotiating, documenting and obtaining NBA approval for new rights agreements for the broadcast of the teams' games by Fox Sports on SportSouth, Sun Sports, Fox Sports Oklahoma and Fox Sports Southwest. Represent the Miami Heat with respect to sponsorship agreements and the Atlanta Hawks with respect to its arena renovation.
- Represented purchaser in acquiring a significant minority interest, and then a controlling interest, in the New York Islanders. We negotiated and documented the acquisition and joint venture with the seller as well as the lenders' and NHL's approval of the transaction. Also represent the controlling ownership group and the team in equity and debt transactions, respectively.
- Represented purchaser of a minority interest in Charlotte Hornets.
- Represented purchaser of a minority interest in new MLS team in Austin (Austin FC).
- Represented Philadelphia Phillies in negotiating, documenting and obtaining MLB approval for a long-term rights agreement for the broadcast of the team's games by the regional sports network Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (CSNP), a short-term rights agreement for the broadcast of the team's games by an over-the-air station controlled by NBCUniversal, a new long-term sponsorship agreement with Comcast and agreements related to an ownership stake in CSNP.
- Represented purchaser in acquiring the Sacramento Kings. Negotiated and documented the acquisition, the equity structure, the debt financing extension and the NBA's approval of the transaction (as well as the NBA's approval to keep the team in Sacramento and, therefore, rejection of relocation of the team to Seattle proposed by a competing bidder). Represent the Kings in new head coach's and other basketball and non-basketball operations personnel's employment agreements. Represented the Kings in a new long-term rights agreement for the broadcast of its games on a cable sports network. Represent the team and its affiliates in various debt financing transactions, sponsorship agreements and suite licenses. Represent the team in its new arena (Golden 1 Center) and mixed-used development activities, including negotiating and documenting land acquisition, arena and tower construction loans, various agreements with the City of Sacramento and others related to the design, construction, development, financing, use, operation and management of the new arena, and NBA approval of the arena project, as well as the arena's naming rights agreement and concessions agreement and refinancing the bonds related to the team's former home arena. Represented the team in the acquisition of an expansion Gatorade League team (Reno Bighorns).
- Represented note purchasers in refinancing construction loan for Levi's Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers).
- Represented note purchasers in refinancing construction loan for Banc of California Stadium (home of Los Angeles FC).
- Represented lead investor in the New York Mets in negotiating, documenting and obtaining MLB and bank approval of equity financing and related equity transactions.
- Represented Boston Celtics in negotiating, documenting and obtaining NBA approval for a new long-term rights agreement for the broadcast of the team’s games by a regional sports network, an extension to a sponsorship agreement with the network and agreements related to an ownership stake in the network.
- Represented Detroit Pistons and Palace of Auburn Hills in the sale of the team and the arena. We negotiated and documented the sale, retained equity, indebtedness and NBA approval of the transaction. Represent sellers in post-closing matters.
- Represented purchaser in acquiring the Golden State Warriors. Negotiated and documented the acquisition, equity structure, bank financing and NBA's approval of the transaction. Represent the Warriors in a new long-term rights agreement for the broadcast of its games on a cable sports network, new head coach's and other basketball and non-basketball operations personnel's employment agreements, participation in NBA's League-Wide Credit Facility, refinancing of acquisition debt financing and raising equity. Represented the team in the acquisition of Gatorade League's Dakota Wizards and its relocation to Santa Cruz. Represent the team in its major sponsorship deals and new arena (Chase Center) and mixed-use development activities, including the new arena's naming rights agreement, concessions agreement, land acquisition financing, construction loan, retail financing, team use agreement and arena membership program, NBA approval of the arena project and the team's joint venture with Uber and Alexandria Real Estate Equities for the development of two office towers.
- Represented purchaser in acquiring the Oakland Athletics. Negotiated and documented the acquisition, equity structure, bank financing and MLB's approval of the transaction. Represented the As in participating in MLB's League-Wide Credit Facility, refinancing its bank credit facility and a new radio broadcast agreement. Represented the As in a new long-term rights agreement for the broadcast of its games on a cable sports network. Represent the As in issues related to proposed new home stadium, a change in control transaction (including documenting the transaction and obtaining MLB approval), other capital structure issues, mixed-use development activities and executive employment agreements.
- Represented owners of the St. Louis Blues and the Savvis Center in various day-to-day business matters and the sale of the team and operating rights to the arena. Included negotiating and documenting the sale, the redemption of bonds used to finance the construction of the arena, and the NHL's approval of the transaction. Represented the team in new rights agreement for the broadcast of its games on Fox Sports Midwest.
- Represented White Sox in naming rights deals with U.S. Cellular and Guaranteed Rate for the team's home stadium in Chicago and its radio broadcast agreements. Represented the White Sox, and worked closely with counsel for the Los Angeles Dodgers, in negotiating and drafting documents related to the development and use of the new two-team spring training facility built by the City of Glendale, Arizona. Represented the White Sox in early termination of its spring training deal with Pima County in order to start playing at the new Glendale facility in 2009. Represented the White Sox in financing provided to a minor league affiliate and extension of concessions and novelties agreements. Represent the team in its major sponsorship deals.
- Represent Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and United Center in their major sponsorship deals, including extension of arena naming rights, telecommunications, beer and credit card sponsorship deals, and the Bulls' new jersey sponsorship. Represented the Bulls in its radio broadcast agreements. Represented the Bulls in its participation in the NBA's League-Wide Credit Facility, new head coach's employment agreement, acquisition of an expansion Gatorade League team (Windy City Bulls) and entering into a lease for its home venue.
- Represented ownership that acquired the operating rights for the then-new MLS expansion team in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Union. Negotiated and documented the expansion agreement with MLS and the purchaser's equity structure. Represented the Union and Talen Energy Stadium in their first founding sponsor agreements, naming rights agreement, jersey sponsorship, television broadcast agreement and youth development agreement. Represented the team and stadium in debt financing transaction with a cable network and entering into stadium management, event booking, concessions and ticketing agreements with network affiliates. Represented the team in stadium issues, acquiring a USL team (Harrisburg City Islanders), and the new head coach's and other soccer and non-soccer operations personnel's employment agreements. Represent the team with respect to raising capital, bank debt financing and acquisition of training facility and related land.
- Represented Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, and worked closely with counsel for the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Cubs, in the formation of a regional cable sports network. The teams were owners of, and licensors of games to, the network, which began broadcasting in the fall of 2004. Also represented the White Sox and Bulls in their over-the-air television agreements with WGN. Represented the White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks in their new broadcast rights agreements and regional sports network joint venture that commenced in fall of 2019.
- Represent a financial institution in providing debt financing for several NBA teams.
- Represent a financial institution in providing debt financing for an NHL arena.
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