Leveraging Dow Lohnes’ diverse practices and expertise in the communications, media and technology industries, Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment represents athletes, broadcasters, owners, networks, arena and event owners, sponsors, content owners, distributors and other industry participants involved at all levels of the business of sports. We have represented clients in connection with athlete-team contracts, athlete-sponsor contracts, athlete tax planning and wealth preservation, creating, launching and investing in cable networks, acquisition and licensing of online and mobile content and technology assets, new media and multi-platform distribution agreements, M&A transactions and financings, television programming agreements, and sponsorship and marketing arrangements. Recently, Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment attorneys:
- negotiated the third-highest running back contract in NFL history on behalf of our client, Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars;
- represented one of the two final bidders for the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball franchise, Wrigley Field and an interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago; and
- handled multiple projects for the Sports, Entertainment & Special Events division of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, including: conference and team affiliation agreements for the EagleBank Bowl; the establishment of a Nation’s Football Classic event for Historically Black Colleges and Universities; and its efforts to host the prologue and initial stage of the 2012 Giro d’Italia bicycle race in Washington, DC.
Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment provides professional athletes with a full complement of legal services, including sourcing and negotiating contracts and endorsement arrangements, preparing estate planning and other family-law documents, and protecting and licensing intellectual property rights. By taking a comprehensive approach to assisting our professional athlete clients, Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment distinguishes itself from traditional sports agencies that represent athletes solely in connection with team contract negotiations, referring other legal work to outside lawyers or firms.
Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment has two full-time professionals dedicated solely to athlete representation, including an NFLPA and NBAPA-certified player agent. Clients of the athlete representation practice include Antoine Bethea of the Indianapolis Colts, Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears, Dahntay Jones of the Indiana Pacers, Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kendall Langford of the Miami Dolphins.
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Media / Intellectual Property Protection and Licensing
Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment benefits from the significant media, licensing, transactional and intellectual property experience of attorneys in the firm’s Media and Information Technologies practice group. These attorneys have worked on myriad sports-related content, trademark, sponsorship, publicity and technology development, licensing and procurement agreements. This experience ranges from English and Spanish-language telecasting rights agreements for Major League Baseball teams to handling a content and technology licensing and procurement agreement to broadcast at-track competition video, telemetry data, in-car audio and other content and materials to handheld devices at NASCAR tracks.
In addition, the Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment practice has significant experience representing sponsors of athletes and teams at virtually all levels, ranging from Sprint’s title sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and naming rights sponsorship of the Sprint Center to AutoTrader.com’s Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association online and offline sponsorships. The Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment practice also represents its athlete clients in connection with their licensing, endorsement and sponsorship arrangements. These projects include a trademark and publicity license agreement with a major manufacturer or sports- and lifestyle-related clothing.
Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment also has significant experience handling projects involving online, new media, mobile and other emerging digital distribution platforms. Such projects include negotiating online, digital and mobile rights agreements, as well as content distribution agreements, with Sirius XM Radio, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and NASCAR Digital Entertainment.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment leverages the firm’s knowledge of sports industries and the experience of members of the firm’s Business Transactions & Corporate practice group to offer “one-stop shopping” for legal services for sports-related merger and acquisition projects and financings. The firm utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on the knowledge and experience of the attorneys in the firm’s corporate, finance, tax, antitrust, labor, employee benefits, real estate and media and information technologies groups, to handle all aspects of transactional projects. We have assisted clients in the evaluation and purchase and sale of controlling and minority interests in professional sports league franchises and related real estate and media assets (including several large regional sports cable television networks). We have also assisted clients in securing senior bank financing, subordinated financing and equity-linked financing to fund acquisitions and ongoing operations.
Wealth Preservation Planning
Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment draws on the strength of the wealth preservation experience of attorneys in the firm’s tax practice group. These attorneys have significant experience in preparing wills, trusts, private foundation documents and other documents designed to assist in wealth preservation and inter-generational wealth transfer for our professional athlete and other high net worth clients. Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment also provides personal tax planning services, including the transfer of wealth through gift and estate planning, asset protection and the restructuring of business interests. Our lawyers also assist with the formation of partnerships, limited liability companies, and other business entities, including deferred compensation vehicles that are increasingly a key element of a well-designed wealth preservation plan.
The tax lawyers and other tax specialists working as part of Dow Lohnes Sports & Entertainment have a comprehensive, diverse national practice in federal, state and local tax matters. These professionals have expertise in tax and financial accounting issues, especially as they relate to tax planning, audits, appeals and state and local taxes.
- We represented one of the investor groups bidding for the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball franchise, which included ownership of Wrigley Field and an interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The group was led by Marc Utay, the Managing Partner at Clarion Capital Partners. Mr. Utay’s group was one of two finalists in Tribune’s auction process.
- We represent the DC Bowl Committee, Inc., which organizes and hosts the EagleBank Bowl. This representation includes the bowl’s affiliation agreements with the NCAA and participating conferences, such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Conference USA, and the Big 12, as well as agreements with individual schools, such as the United States Naval Academy, the United States Military Academy, Temple University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Projects involved in this representation also include agreements with the Wounded Warrior Project, as primary charitable beneficiary of the 2009 EagleBank Bowl, and the bowl’s agreement with its website developer and hosting company.
- We represent the Sports, Entertainment and Special Events Division of the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, including in connection with its efforts to establish and operate an annual Nation’s Football Classic event highlighting two Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition, this representation also involves the WCSA’s relationship with the DC United Major League Soccer franchise.
- Our media licensing expertise includes licensing, on behalf of RSN clients, telecast and other intellectual property rights from the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and the New Orleans Hornets.
- We have assisted Sprint, the title sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, in all aspects of its sponsorship activation. This project included licensing agreements with ten of the most prominent drivers and teams, as well as a content rights agreement with NASCAR to broadcast to handheld devices at-track competition video, telemetry data, in-car audio and other content and materials.
- We recently assisted a media company client in connection with its sale of a minority interest in a Major League Baseball franchise.