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Buying and Selling Professional Sports Franchises

(712 reviews)

Produced on January 07, 2016

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Course Information

Time 1h 8m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Sports Law

Course Description

Sports team transfers represent some of the most complex transactions within the global sports landscape. These high-profile deals involve numerous constituencies, including investors, leagues, government authorities, and various business partners. It is as important to understand the process for acquiring a team as it is selling a team, including when “business divorce” leads to the transfer of team ownership interests. Join Herrick, Feinstein sports group team members, Irwin Kishner, John Goldman, and Jared Bartie, for a discussion regarding key issues pertaining to professional sports team buy-sell transactions.


Learning Objectives:

I.     Gain an understanding of the current state of affairs within the sports M&A landscape

II.    Determine the process for valuing professional sports franchises

III.   Learn how leagues are involved in and affect the transfer process

IV.   Navigate the due diligence process

V.    Understand the role stadiums and arenas play in the transfer equation

VI.   Identify key revenue drivers and expense obligations

VII.  Review financing structures and explore related opportunities, obligations and limitations

VIII. Determine the process for selling team interests amicably or in connection with ownership disputes


Credit Information

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Irwin A. Kishner

Herrick, Feinstein LLP

Irwin Kishner is the chairman of Herrick's Executive Committee and a member of the firm's Corporate Department. Irwin concentrates his practice in general corporation law with an emphasis on sophisticated transactional work, including mergers and acquisitions, sports law, private equity, securities law, corporate restructurings and reorganizations, new media law, venture capital, joint venture, entertainment law, corporate finance and lending, intellectual property and licensing, employment law, equity and debt offerings and syndications in both the public and private context.

He has handled numerous mergers and acquisitions, both hostile and friendly, on behalf of acquirers, targets, and investment banks. The range of transactions includes proxy contests, joint ventures, self-tender offers, third party and spin-offs, taking public companies private, and other forms of corporate restructurings. Irwin's practice also includes advising financial institutions on regulatory issues and on derivatives and other financial instruments, as well as representation of private equity and venture capital funds and investors in fund formation (onshore and offshore), acquisitions and sales of portfolio companies. He has successfully structured, negotiated, supervised and closed many financing and capital raising transactions, including private placements, initial public offerings, PIPEs, hedge fund convertible security investments, secured and mezzanine loan facilities, project finance, workouts, reorganizations, equity and debt restructurings and negotiation of intercreditor relationships. Irwin has also represented clients in a number of high-profile senior executive employment and severance agreements and compensation packages as well as numerous corporations in the administration and establishment of employee compensation plans. Corporate boards and audit and special committees also turn to Irwin for advice on such matters as corporate governance and corporate restructurings.


He represents a number of professional sports franchises and has acted as primary counsel on several high profile team acquisitions and dispositions in all of the major sports leagues; cable television and radio contracts; internet and intellectual property rights; joint ventures; credit facilities; advertising and sponsorship contracts; development and naming rights agreements; franchise transfers and financings; major event and tournament promotions; and seat license agreements for stadiums and arenas. He has acted as lead counsel in all aspects of eleven major stadium transactions, most significantly the new Yankee Stadium, and also represents financial institutions and bond insurers in stadium finance matters and loans to teams and team owners.


Irwin’s experience includes representation of the New York Yankees in their joint venture effort with Manchester City to create Major League Soccer's New York City Football Club (NYCFC), and the continuing representation of the Club across a range of transactions. He recently advised Legends Hospitality in the deal to develop and operate the observation deck at the top of One World Trade Center, and was lead counsel to the New York Yankees and Yankee Global Enterprises in News Corp's 2012 acquisition of 49 percent of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES), and 21st Century Fox's ensuing 2014 acquisition, which raised its ownership stake in YES to 80 percent.


Irwin’s sports experience also includes the formation of two of the country’s largest regional sports networks (YES and SNY), and the ongoing representation of both networks. He has also negotiated many significant televisions, radio and digital media rights agreements for NBA, MLB and MLS teams – including recent radio rights agreements for the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees and the NYCFC. Irwin has also advised on many high-profile sponsorship, marketing and advertising agreements for teams and their stadiums, including the new Yankee Stadium’s agreements with corporations such as Toyota and AT&T, as well as sponsorship agreements for major sporting events, including Army Black Knight football games, the NCAA’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl and world-championship boxing matches. Irwin provides general corporate and tax-related advice to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) in addition to his primary role as their Integrity Counsel.


Irwin frequently lectures, and appears on television and radio, on such topics as M&A, private equity, venture capital, sports financing, structured premium finance and life settlements transactions, and executive compensation, among others. Before joining Herrick, Irwin was an associate in Shearman & Sterling's mergers and acquisitions department where he participated in several high-profile hostile tender offers and numerous public and privately negotiated divestitures and acquisitions.

John R. Goldman

JRG Business Solutions Corp.

John Goldman is a partner in Herrick’s Litigation Department and the co-chair of the firm’s Sports Law Group.


John advises companies, family offices and high-net-worth individuals on a wide range of commercial litigation and business matters. A savvy negotiator known for transforming highly polarized battles into productive business deals, John has successfully resolved difficult disputes, including many business divorces for clients in a broad range of industries, including sports, real estate, finance and technology. In addition, John is always looking to create opportunities for Herrick’s clients, and he regularly helps to create deals through his many thoughtful introductions.


John also frequently advises franchise owners, players and sports investors in complex, multi-party negotiations, deals and disputes. He has advised on the landmark purchases of Italian Serie A soccer clubs A.S. Roma and Bologna F.C. 1909 and, most recently, the purchase of Venezia F.C. He also advised former New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk in an arbitration between the NHL and NHLPA, and negotiations among the league, the Devils and the NHLPA which ended with Kovalchuk securing a landmark 15-year, $100 million deal.


John demonstrates his passion for spirited competition in many ways. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he is a die-hard supporter of the Wolverines and a fervent antagonist of a rival state university in Ohio. John is also a competitive age-group triathlete, having completed more than 50 events, including Ironman USA Lake Placid three times (where he has finished in the top 30% overall).

Jared F. Bartie

O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Featured in SportsBusiness Journal’s “Power-Players: Outside Counsel” rankings and named “Sports Attorney of the Year” by the National Bar Association, Jared Bartie has more than two decades of sports and media experience, as both an attorney and business executive.

He regularly counsels sports clients on a variety of high-profile matters, including team investments, prominent naming rights and sponsorship transactions, and media rights agreements. Jared also advises on arena operating agreements, food and beverage agreements, merchandise agreements, ticketing arrangements, suite licenses and front office, coach and player agreements.

Jared’s sports and media experience includes working as acting chief counsel, productions at Black Entertainment Television; as chief legal officer and general counsel of the United States Tennis Association; as a senior member of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations group; and as general counsel and chief administrative officer of the NBA Charlotte Bobcats.


Jamie Z.

Very interesting stuff and the presenters were very knowledgeable.

Thomas M.

Great stuff.

Michael C.

Now I’m going to buy that franchise.

Joseph J. O.

Very interesting and informative. Excellent presentations by clearly very knowledgeable attys.

Josh N.


Leslie T.

One of the clearest and best Lawline courses. Excellent to listen too as it’s was told like a story.

Andrew S.

Good use of multiple speakers

Ron V.

Interesting course -- not sure I will have the opportunity to actually broker a deal for a major sports franchise -- but it was interesting the learn from those who have done so.

Brittin F.

Best sports related course I have encountered. The panel was very keen on the course subjects.

Robert P.

All three speakers were articulate and great.

Richard R.

Professional's professionals! Thank You

Tom G.

Very knowledgeable speakers, all of them. Interesting topics.

Max S.

Interesting program.

Ada A.

fantastic speakers... with valuable information to say. Thank you!

Brent C.

Always interesting to hear specialists talk about their areas, especially, in this case, as a sports fan.

Michael J.

good presentation!

Erik L.

Jared, Irwin and John gave an engaging presentation on a fascinating subject.



Edward S.

The best of the best sports lawyers with an outstanding presentation. Very informative.

Christopher K.

Well done.

Ralph P.

The speakers and the recording were clear.

Henry S. S.

Very informative and very interesting.

Nancy B.

Very interesting and timely

Caitlin C.

Very interesting topic. Can't wait 'til someone calls me to buy a pro team. I'll be ready.

Chandler V.

liked goldman talk

Florence D N.

excellent seminar

Mark C.


Julie P.


Rachel T.

Great topic

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