• Contacts


    Senior Counsel

    Intellectual Property
    Chair, Sports Law

    Sports Law

    Superstar athletes and sports franchises are merely the public faces of a multibillion-dollar business infrastructure that has come to operate in increasingly complex and specialized ways. Money flows in and out from countless revenue streams and the fans, the media and the government scrutinize every players’ every move. Never before has a highly skilled sports lawyer been such an important member of the team.

    Manatt’s Sports Law practice has been serving clients in the industry for decades. Our alumni include, in addition to a number of famous sports agents, a former name partner who went on to become the first commissioner of Major League Soccer.

    Many firms specialize in only one aspect of sports law. Thanks to our broad sports-related client base, we are able to offer a broad range of services for all your sports-related needs. The attorneys in our Sports Law group are thought leaders in the industry, providing counsel and representation to athletes, sports leagues, universities, public sports authorities, corporate sponsors and a wide range of other industry stakeholders on complex business deals, public policy and litigation.

    With offices in the media capitals of New York and Los Angeles, we offer sports industry clients unsurpassed advertising and marketing law capabilities to manage multimillion-dollar sponsorship agreements between leading cable and broadcast sports networks and sports media giants. Our skilled sports litigators frequently draw on the resources of other practices, including real estate and land use, intellectual property, employment and labor, public finance, construction, and tax law.

    Since launching practices in such new areas as deferred compensation and talent buyouts, we have been handling more sophisticated transactions. When managing deal or contract negotiations, we ensure that every issue is addressed, every opportunity explored and every base covered. We also have experience in international sports transactions, such as enabling foreign interests to own profitable domestic franchises and U.S. franchises to reach a global audience.

    Sophisticated testing for performance-enhancing substances, which has become routine, has created a legal and public relations minefield for players, coaches and owners, not to mention an irresistible narrative for sports journalists and reporters. We’ll look at every point of vulnerability in your organization to better protect you from controversy.


    • Elgin Baylor v. Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Club. After resigning as the Los Angeles Clippers’ general manager and executive vice president in 2008, Elgin Baylor sued the team, its owner and its president for unlawful termination, discrimination and harassment based on his age. Also claiming racial discrimination and harassment by the team, Baylor and his lawyers sought millions of dollars for alleged economic and punitive damages and mental distress. Refusing to settle and willing to take the lawsuit all the way to trial, the Clippers hired us to mount an aggressive defense. Just one day before the trial was set to begin, the court granted several of our pivotal evidentiary motions that paralyzed Baylor’s race claims, leading Baylor to dismiss them with prejudice. Our team was then able to quickly revise its strategy to focus on unraveling Baylor’s age claims at trial. By a unanimous 12-0 vote, the jury determined that none of Baylor’s claims had merit and fully exonerated the Clippers; its owner, Donald T. Sterling; and its president, Andy Roeser.
    • Stadium and arena matters. Whether you’re looking to build a stadium or your current arena has operating issues, Manatt can help. We have managed major land use and stadium development deals for the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Washington Nationals—including securing legislative approvals and handling lease negotiations. We played a major role in the issuance of $535 million in Ballpark Revenue Bonds that helped bring the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball to Washington, D.C. We represented California State University, Dominguez Hills, in the negotiation and documentation of all the agreements for the development of the Home Depot Center, a stadium located on its campus. On the operations side, we have drafted and negotiated numerous diverse hospitality agreements for Staples Center, the home court of both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
    • College athletics.  In addition to our work in professional sports, Manatt has done a significant amount of work in college athletics. We represented California State University‘s board of trustees in connection with documenting the terms and conditions of development, by a private entity of the Home Depot Center, of a soccer stadium, a tennis stadium, U.S. Soccer Federation training facilities and other athletic facilities on the Dominguez Hills campus, including ground leases, an implementation agreement, a joint use agreement and multiple other agreements governing the site. We also obtained a historic court ruling for a group of female high school athletes in San Diego who had sued for injunctive relief under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It was the first time a class of high school female athletes had won summary judgment on the issue of failure to provide equal participation opportunities under Title IX.
    • Foreign matters.  Our sports-related experience is not limited to the United States. After assisting the City of Johannesburg, South Africa, in a study for the development of Johannesburg’s first “economic empowerment zone”—an area designated as a priority zone for business investment and social empowerment, which, in this case, just happened to include the main stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup—the city sought our advice on how U.S. municipalities and states have structured tax lien securitizations and other financings to yield additional cash flow. The city plans to use this financing arrangement to fund additional infrastructure, housing and other demands that have increased because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
    • Jim Brown v. Electronic Arts.  We are currently representing football legend Jim Brown in his appeal in a case against Electronic Arts. The matter involves important issues balancing the right of publicity and the First Amendment.


    Attorneys & Professionals

    Allen-Niesen, Keith M. Los Angeles 310.312.4105
    Barkow, Michael New York 212.790.4590
    Boggs, T. Hale Los Angeles 310.312.4269
    Brody, Jesse Los Angeles 310.312.4173
    Bromley, Jordan Los Angeles 310.312.4134
    de Recat, Craig J. Los Angeles 310.312.4319
    Goldstein, Linda A. New York 212.790.4544
    Huard, David L. San Francisco 415.291.7430
    Jones, James R. Washington, D.C. 202.585.6560
    Kallick, Ivan L. Los Angeles 310.312.4152
    Katz, Ronald S. Palo Alto 650.812.1346
    Kaufman, Kenneth M. Washington, D.C. 202.585.6532
    Kieffer, George David Los Angeles 310.312.4146
    Lavie, Jen Deitch New York 212.790.4595
    Lee, Mark S. Los Angeles 310.312.4128
    Marks, Laurence M. Los Angeles 310.312.4154
    Moran, David T. Los Angeles 310.312.4365
    Parcher, L. Peter New York 212.790.4520
    Petrossian, Emil Los Angeles 310.312.4294
    Phillips, L. Lee Los Angeles 310.312.4111
    Platt, Robert H. Los Angeles 310.312.4221
    Polentz, Michael Palo Alto 650.251.1440
    Portnoff, Matthew A. Los Angeles 310.312.4256
    Rutenberg, Craig S. Los Angeles 310.312.4333
    Shatz, Benjamin G. Los Angeles 310.312.4383
    Torrey, Rebecca L. Los Angeles 310.312.4172
    Wanger, Christopher L. San Francisco 415.291.7410

    Sports Law

    Sports Clients

    • Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Club
    • National Basketball Association
    • Trustees of California State Universities
    • U.S. Olympic Committee
    • Washington Nationals Baseball Club