Sports Law

Industry Group Leaders

Andrew S. Tulumello Washington, D.C.
View Profile
Maurice Suh Los Angeles
View Profile
Richard J. Birns New York
View Profile

Overview

​Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Sports Law Practice Group advises clients on the most complex sports industry matters, from the purchase and sale of U.S. and non-U.S. professional teams to precedent-setting litigation. 

Gibson Dunn's global sports practice represents a wide range of clients in matters relating to professional and amateur sports, including individual teams, sports facilities, athletic associations, athletes, financial institutions, television networks, sponsors and municipalities.  The group operates as a single, multidisciplinary practice across the firm's global offices, collaborating as each matter requires with colleagues in particular transactional, dispute resolution and regulatory areas.  With some of the world’s finest practices that include M&A, finance, antitrust and litigation, we are uniquely qualified to offer clients innovative solutions for these and other sports-related needs:

  • Acquisitions and dispositions of professional franchises and venues
  • Acquisition financing
  • Strategic joint ventures
  • Venue development (including public-private partnerships)
  • Media rights representations, including regional sports network launches
  • Sponsorship transactions, including naming rights
  • Arbitrations before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other Olympic movement international and U.S. governing bodies
  • Arbitrations arising pursuant to dispute resolution provisions in professional sports contracts
  • Litigation of sports disputes in U.S. federal and state courts
  • Antitrust counseling and representation
  • Collective bargaining and other labor matters
  • Crisis management
  • Development, negotiation and enforcement of association rules and regulations
  • Intellectual property and licensing
  • Reorganizations and bankruptcy proceedings  

The Sports Law group's members dedicate a major portion of their practices to sports-related work and understand the nuanced and complex issues involving the sports industry. 

Experience and Recent Representations

  • YES Network in connection with the sale of an approximately 80 percent interest to 21st Century Fox.*
  • Ownership in the sale of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Arena to an acquisition group controlled by Josh Harris and David Blitzer.*
  • Ownership in the sale of Chivas USA to affiliates of MLS.*
  • Foreign investors in their acquisition of a 50 percent interest in the reborn New York Cosmos soccer club.
  • Mark Cuban in his acquisition of the Dallas Mavericks, including interests in the American Airlines Center in Dallas. 
  • Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. in the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers National Hockey League franchise and the Atlanta Hawks National Basketball Association franchise to Atlanta Spirit LLC.*
  • Jeffrey Moorad in his acquisition, with an investment group, of an equity interest in the San Diego Padres Major League Baseball club and the representation of the investment group in the transactional aspects of the implementation of the club's regional sports network.
  • Medallion Financial in connection with its acquisition of Richard Petty Motorsports (NASCAR team).*
  • Time Warner Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. in the sale of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club franchise to Liberty Media Corporation.*
  • AmericaOne in connection with the asset sale of the AmericaOne America's Cup team to Larry Ellison.
  • Time Warner Cable, Inc. in its joint venture with Comcast Corporation and the owners of the New York Mets to create SNY, a regional sports television network.*
  • Celtics, Inc. as special counsel to Celtics Basketball LP (the Boston Celtics basketball team) in its sale to Lake Carnegie LLC.
  • The buyer of a substantial minority interest in (with broad management control rights over) the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball team and subsequent sale of those interests.
  • Alain Prost (Formula One world champion) in a joint venture agreement with LVMH, and in the sale of direct and indirect shareholding in a racing team.​

* Matters handled by lawyer prior to joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

  • Hollywood Park Land Co., a joint venture between Stockbridge Capital Group LLC and the Kroenke Group, in its plan to develop 298 acres in Inglewood, California, including the addition of a proposed $1.8 billion NFL stadium and 6,000-seat performance venue. 
  • Madison Square Garden in its acquisition of the Forum in Inglewood, California, and in negotiations in connection with permitting regarding its renovation as a premier entertainment venue.
  • The New Jersey Devils and Prudential Arena in connection with the refinancing and restructuring of their senior secured credit facilities.*
  • The San Diego Padres in connection with the team's senior secured financings.
  • YES Network in connection with numerous secured and unsecured financings.
  • The Golden State Warriors in the negotiation, entitlement and CEQA review of a new arena and entertainment complex in San Francisco.
  • Goldman Sachs in connection with its initial investment in, and ultimate sale of, its interest in Legends Hospitality, the concessions and sports-marketing joint venture of the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys and Goldman Sachs to provide concession services to Yankee Stadium, Cowboys Stadium and other venues.*
  • The buyer of the Portland Beavers in connection with construction of a new state-of-the-art minor league baseball stadium in Escondido, California, and lease of the stadium by the Beavers.
  • The Boston Celtics LP in the reorganization of the publicly held limited partnership that owned the Boston Celtics basketball team and other assets into two entities: a publicly held partnership and a privately held partnership (Castle Creek Partners).
  • Foxboro Stadium and the adjacent New England Harness Raceway in connection with all aspects of ownership, management and operation of the stadium and agreements for all the diverse income streams, including signage, sponsorship, parking, football, and event usage and retail operations.
  • The City of Los Angeles in the public-private partnership aspects of the construction of the Staples Center.
  • Nike, Inc. in connection with its resigning of professional basketball star Kevin Durant.​

* Matters handled by lawyer prior to joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

  • Secured summary judgment from the Central District of California for Nike, Inc. against Oakley in a lawsuit over which company was entitled to the endorsement services of Rory McIlroy. 
  • Successfully intervened on behalf of Nike, Inc. in the Northern District of Illinois in a case involving Michael Jordan's publicity rights, for the purpose of protecting the secrecy of Nike's endorsement agreement with Jordan.
  • Represented the National Football League Players Association in various matters, including antitrust litigation against the National Football League; follow-on litigation brought by retired NFL Hall of Fame players; collective bargaining with the National Football League over benefits matters; and the development and negotiation of arbitral rules governing discipline of NFL players. 
  • Successfully represented Madison Square Garden and others in litigations and lobbying efforts challenging and ultimately defeating New York City's sweeping proposal to build a new stadium for the Jets on Manhattan's West Side; successfully defended Cablevision and the Garden in $100 million antitrust suit brought by the New York Jets over their failed stadium bid.
  • Won Federal Circuit affirmance, on behalf of the University of Southern California (USC), of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's decision to refuse registration of the "SC" trademark to the University of South Carolina.  In 2002, USC formally opposed South Carolina's application to federally register a stylized version of the "SC" trademark, alleging that South Carolina's "SC" mark infringed on USC's federally registered and common-law "SC" marks.  In response, South Carolina counterclaimed to cancel USC's federal trademark registration for its "SC" interlock logo.  The Board ruled that both universities' marks are identical or confusingly similar and that they are used on identical or similar products that travel through the same trade channels.  USC also prevailed on the issue of priority.
  • Represented the Olympic Committees in connection with rules and regulations related to the IOC and the Olympic Games.
  • Represented Garmin-Cervelo, a professional cycling team, in connection with sponsorship disputes.
  • Represented Floyd Landis in a CAS arbitration in Lausanne and New York arising out of the actions taken by the U. S. Anti-Doping Agency regarding Mr. Landis' victory in the 2006 Tour de France competition.
  • Won appeal of Justin Gatlin's suspension before CAS, thereby preserving his ability to participate in the Beijing Olympics and eligibility to compete in IAAF-sanctioned events worldwide.
  • Represented an English football club in defense against claims of unfair dismissal in the Employment Tribunal and wrongful dismissal in the High Court brought by a former director.
  • Represented the Ladies Professional Golf Association in a proceeding for cancellation of a major golf tournament. 
  • Represented Cowboy Athletics Inc., Oklahoma State University (OSU) and T. Boone Pickens in a brief before the Fifth Circuit on behalf of Cowboy Athletics Inc. (the charitable organization that supports collegiate athletics at OSU) and Mr. Pickens.  The matter was in a high-profile appeal involving a multimillion-dollar life insurance scam, college football and one of the biggest names in American business. 
  • Represented the New Jersey governor and the State of New Jersey in an action brought by the NCAA, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball alleging violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.