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National Sports Law Group

Getting results for team and league management and owners

The National Sports Law Group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) represents owners, teams, leagues and sponsors – not athletes or agents. We focus on dealing with the day-to-day operation of sports franchises, professional leagues and sports sponsorships. We have formed leagues, bought and sold teams, negotiated naming rights and broadcast rights, advised teams and leagues on nearly all aspects of their operations, and handled some of the highest profile litigation and arbitration proceedings in the sports industry.

Multi-Sport Focus

Our lawyers have experience with every major professional sport, as well as many action sports. The range of our legal advice and assistance to team owners, leagues and sponsors encompasses the following professional sports:

  • Baseball - including the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies
  • Basketball - including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Sparks
  • Hockey - The National Hockey League (NHL), the West Coast Hockey League and the Stockton Thunder
  • Lacrosse - ArenaWorks Entertainment
  • Motocross - Kawasaki race teams at all levels
  • Soccer - one of the major European professional soccer teams, the Continental Indoor Soccer League and Proactive Sports Management
  • Boxing - Forum Boxing and Golden Boy Productions
  • Surfing, Skiing, Snowboarding and Skateboarding - Quiksilver, Roxy, and DC Shoes teams
  • Volleyball - Association of Volleyball Professional (AVP) and Pro Beach Volleyball Players Association
  • Other action sports - National Professional Paintball League and Roller Hockey International

Acquiring Teams and Establishing Leagues

We can help prospective owners acquire a franchise, arrange for financing, set up a management team and walk them through each step in running a successful professional sports organization. We have years of experience that can help you in acquiring either a major or minor league team. Our lawyers have also set up leagues such as the West Coast Hockey League and the Continental Indoor Soccer League.

Throughout our decades of experience in the sports industry, we have built relationships with the people you need to know in order to establish or grow your existing sports business:

  • Important league administrators and team owners in each of the major sports leagues
  • Local and national government officials
  • Stadium and arena owners and managers
  • Broadcast and cable network executives
  • Agents and athletes

Sponsorship Negotiation

Perhaps the fastest growing segment of JMBM's national sports practice involves sponsorships and the intellectual property rights involved in sponsorships and endorsement agreements. We have represented a number of companies in these contracts, including stadium naming rights deals, as well as numerous teams and leagues in negotiation of their sponsorship agreements.

We have also advised corporate sponsors and their affiliates in events like surfing, snowboarding, skiing and skateboarding, as represented Kawasaki in negotiation of its rider agreement for all levels of motocross events. JMBM’s unique knowledge of both the sports and entertainment worlds allows us to advise sponsor clients on how best to grow their business.

Naming Rights

Our firm is experienced  in negotiating stadium and arena naming rights. We have represented both stadium officials and corporate sponsors in these facility naming rights deals:

  • Apogee Telecom in its stadium naming rights deal for North Texas State University
  • M&T Bank in its stadium naming rights deal for the Baltimore Ravens' Stadium
  • The Forum Arena in its naming rights deal with Great Western Bank
  • Mandalay Sports Entertainment (MSE), (a subsidiary of Mandalay Entertainment Group), and the Dayton Dragons in their stadium naming rights deal with Fifth Third Bank (Fifth Third Bancorp)

Intellectual Property

Securing and enforcing intellectual property rights is a key component to an organization's success, and JMBM's lawyers are actively involved in identifying, protecting, defending, maximizing and enforcing the intellectual property rights of our sports clients. We handle trademarks, copyrights, domain names, and related licensing and litigation.

Facilities Management

Our attorneys have many years of expertise in all operation of facilities management – from leasing a stadium or arena, real estate issues,  concessions licensing agreements, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and defense, to luxury box and season seat licenses and sales, selling licensing of naming rights for stadiums and arenas and specific portions of a facility. JMBM was involved in numerous aspects of the development, construction, and leasing – as well as management agreement – for the Staples Center in Los Angeles. 

Arbitration Success

No other law firm has surpassed JMBM’s role in Major League Baseball (MLB) salary arbitration. We have represented seven MLB teams in arbitrations, including the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies.

Our attorneys have played key roles in securing victories for clubs in several high-profile cases including:

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers’ arbitration with Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne in 2004;
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers’ arbitration with reliever Joe Beimel in 2007;
  • The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s arbitration with All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez in 2008;
  • Lead counsel in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s arbitration with catcher Jeff Mathis in 2010.

Armed with invaluable experience in every aspect of the arbitration process, we have the know-how and flexibility to help you achieve a winning result. Whether you need help identifying comparables, working with the Labor Relations Department (LRD), outlining cases, analyzing and developing arguments, selecting a filing figure or preparing and arguing a case at a hearing, we have the experience and the flexibility to seamlessly step in at any stage of the process and provide you with exactly the help you need.

Please call us to discuss your needs and how we can help.