Willkie has a rich and deep-rooted history in the area of sports law dating back to 1933 when it began its long association as regular counsel for the National League.  The firm’s distinguished representation of Major League Baseball in a host of matters and transactions spans decades and continues to the present day.  One of the firm’s leading sports law partners, Bowie K. Kuhn, was even appointed to serve as Commissioner of Baseball, a position he would hold for 15 years.  We have handled some of the most important matters on behalf of Baseball, including our successful arguing of the Flood v. Kuhn Supreme Court case, which reaffirmed Baseball's antitrust exemption.  

Over the past decades, Willkie has taken the lead on representing Baseball in a number of other highly-publicized matters, including the various player strikes, free agency grievance arbitrations, television rights disputes, the Pete Rose lifetime suspension for gambling, the purchase of the Montreal Expos and the sale of the Washington Nationals.  The firm also successfully litigated the famous “Pine Tar” case, involving the disqualified home run of Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett for the American League against the New York Yankees, and represented Baseball in its litigation with ESPN.

Other sports clients have included the United States Golf Association, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the New Jersey Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets).  In addition, the firm has been involved in matters relating to National Football League teams, the National Hockey League clubs, and various minor league sports franchises.  Recognized for our experience in the sports law arena, the firm continues to be sought to advise on some of the most significant matters.



  • EMG, a portfolio company of PAI Partners, on its combination with Gravity Media, creating one of the world’s largest broadcast technology and production companies.
  • PSG on its $100 million investment in Sport Alliance GmbH.
  • Three separate investors in a buyer group’s acquisition of a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets from Michael Jordan.
  • Black Knight Football Club, an investor consortium led by Bill Foley, in connection with its acquisition of Premier League club AFC Bournemouth. 
  • Overtime Elite, a basketball league featuring top 16-20-year-old players, in connection with its exclusive multiyear media rights agreement with Amazon. 
  • REP 1 Football in its sale to Excel Sports Management.
  • Shamrock Capital in connection with its Series B investment in Religion of Sports, a leading sports media production company. 
  • The Chernin Group (TCG), as lead investor, in connection with the Series D funding round for the Premier Lacrosse League. 
  • The National Basketball Association's Utah Jazz in connection with its multi-year arena naming rights transaction with Delta Airlines. 
  • Various Bidders in connection with the sale processes of NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL teams.

  • Gantner Electronic Austria Holding GmbH, an Ardian portfolio company, in connection with its acquisition of Syx Automations NV, creating a global provider of comprehensive access, billing and management systems for sport facilities, leisure centers and visitor attractions. 
  • Lagardère in connection with the sale of its leading global sports marketing firm, Lagardère Sports, to H.I.G. Capital. 
  • Sports Information Group, LLC, a multi-media information company serving the sports industry through its flagship Daily Racing Form platform and other brands, in connection with its acquisition by affiliates of Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. 
  • Take-Two Interactive Software in connection with the following: 
    • proposed takeover of London-listed Codemasters for approximately $994 million. Take-Two believes that the transaction creates a global leader in interactive entertainment publishing through the combination of Take-Two and Codemasters’ complementary and critically-acclaimed sports and racing franchises. 
    • its partnership with the NBA to launch NBA 2K eLeague, the first official eSports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league. 

Among the sports-related litigations that we have participated in are the following: 

  • ABC Sports, Inc., et al. v. Atlanta National League Baseball Club, Inc. 
  • Baltimore Orioles, Inc. et al. v. Major League Baseball Players Association
  • BMO Nesbitt Burns, Inc., et al. v. Jeffrey H. Loria, Allen "Bud" Selig, et al.
  • Chargers Football Company, LLC, v. City of San Diego
  • Curtis C. Flood v. Bowie K. Kuhn, et al.
  • Daniel Silverman, Regional Director of the NLRB v. Major League Baseball Players Relations Committee
  • ESPN, Inc. v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
  • GSP Finance LLC v. KPMG LLC 
  • Madelyn Davis v. George Steinbrenner, et al.
  • John Mccoy v. Major League Baseball, et al.
  • Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. and the Los Angeles Dodgers v. Sed Non Olet Denarius, Ltd., et al.
  • Minnesota Twins Partnership v. State of Minnesota
  • New York Yankees Partnership and Adidas America, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Enterprises, Inc., et al.
  • New York Yankees Partnership and George Steinbrenner v. Bowie K. Kuhn as Commissioner
  • Pete Rose v. Major League Baseball, et al.
  • Pete Rose v. Angelo Giamatti
  • Vincent M. Piazza v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, et al.
  • Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of Florida  v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, et ano.
  • Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Committee
  • State of Wisconsin v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, et al.
  • Trustmark Insurance Company v. New Jersey Nets Basketball Club