Weil Gotshal has long had a premier practice serving sports teams and athletes, and our attorneys have repeatedly been recognized as among the leading sports lawyers in the world. Our work in the industry involves both litigators and corporate lawyers who are capable of addressing the full slate of challenges faced by industry participants. In the corporate sphere, we have been an active participant in sport team acquisitions, divestures, investments and financings involving teams in almost all of the various sports leagues operating in the United States and in some of those operating in Europe. We understand the league structure and important decision makers in many of the sports leagues operating in the United States, as well as the major issues involved in obtaining approval to acquire a team under each of the applicable league rules. Our lawyers have handled several notable transactions involving a change in ownership, including the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning National Hockey League franchise to Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment LLC and the sale of the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball franchise to Rangers Baseball Express LLC.
Weil has also been extensively involved in arena project financing in both the United States and Europe, naming rights, sponsorship, broadcasting rights and other sports-related contractual arrangements that generate income for sports teams and their owners. Some of signature deals include representing Southwest Sports Group, LLC as borrower of $400 million from JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Barclays Bank plc, and Goldman Sachs Credit Partners, LP; Center Operating Company in the development, construction, and related financing of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas; and Société Générale in the provision of debtor-in-possession financing to the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Club during its chapter 11 case.
Additionally, Weil Gotshal has participated in hundreds of sports-related arbitrations and legal proceedings over the past 30 years. Our commercial litigators have scored significant victories for players, franchises, and broadcasters. We have also negotiated scores of contracts between player associations, sports leagues, and other businesses. The firm has unmatched experience successfully representing the athletes’ associations of all the major sports leagues in the United States. We have served as lead collective bargaining counsel for the NFL Players Association since 1990, including negotiations related to salary cap provisions, and have represented the NBPA and NHLPA in collective bargaining negotiations in the recent past.