Gibbons is well positioned to provide advice and counsel on a wide range of matters that affect businesses and individuals in the sports and entertainment industries, as well as public entities in connection with the operation of those industries.
Areas of Focus
New Jersey Professional Sports & Gaming
Gibbons is extensively involved in the sports and gaming industries in New Jersey, primarily through our representation of the state’s interests. Gibbons represented the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority (NJSEA) and state of New Jersey in connection with the combined bid by New York and New Jersey to represent the U.S. in its united and ultimately successful bid with Mexico and Canada for the rights to stage the 2026 FIFA World Cup, scheduled to be the biggest soccer World Cup ever held and first to be hosted by three nations. All matches from quarterfinals onwards will be held in the U.S., and the official bid proposes that the final match of the tournament be held at MetLife Stadium. The firm also represents NJSEA in connection with the American Dream Meadowlands project. By the time it is complete, the anticipated $4 billion project will be one of the largest, most unique sports, entertainment, shopping, and tourism centers in the world, creating thousands of jobs during construction and, ultimately, permanent employment. Gibbons is handling all aspects of the project for the NJSEA and its relationship with developer Triple Five Worldwide, including:
- Review and approval of Triple Five’s acquisition of the existing leasehold and development rights.
- The acquisition, through condemnation, of the adjacent land required for the developer’s proposed addition of North America’s largest indoor water and amusement park.
- Review and approval of numerous public and private financing vehicles, including the final municipal bond financing that allowed construction to begin in 2018.
We also handle litigation related to American Dream for the NJSEA. One involved a lawsuit by the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, New York Giants, and New York Jets alleging that proposed modifications to the project – adjacent to their stadium – would violate their contract rights and cause major traffic and parking problems. Gibbons was able to get various aspects of the complaints dismissed and helped secure a mutually beneficial settlement calling for the parties to implement detailed traffic and parking management plans for the entire Sports Complex on NFL game days, which requires engagement with other key State agencies. Gibbons was heavily involved in the settlement negotiations and continues to be involved in the inter-agency discussions to implement the plans. We also represented the NJSEA in connection with all aspects of the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey, advising on occupancy, security, and logistical matters at the Sports Complex.
In addition, Gibbons represented the NJSEA with respect to the privatization of its two horseracing tracks, Monmouth Park and Meadowlands Racetrack, and the transfer of all horseracing management and operations at the two tracks to the private firms, addressing bidding, contract, leasing, gaming, regulatory, and a host of other transactional issues, as well as handling various related litigations threatening to impede operations. We continue to advise the Sports Authority on all day-to-day matters, its dealings with the new operators, and future developments at the tracks, including the host of complex issues involved in the implementation of off-track wagering and online/telephone account wagering operations.
Similarly, Gibbons represented the New Jersey Department of Treasury, Division of State Lottery in engaging a private company to provide management and other services to the Lottery Division. The lottery is New Jersey’s fourth-largest source of revenue, generating billions in ticket sales a year and significant revenue to finance scholarships and programs for the disabled and veterans. We advised the state as to the applicability of state and federal law to the proposed transaction, structured the arrangement to comply with said laws, drafted and negotiated the services agreement provided to potential bidders in a public procurement process, and represented the state in a related bid protest.
In addition, the firm represents the New Jersey Legislature regarding New Jersey’s effort to legalize wagering on sporting events. A 2012 statute attempting to accomplish this was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball (“the Sports Leagues”). The 2012 statute was struck down on the grounds that it was preempted by a federal statute, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited states from legalizing such wagering. After six years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of our clients in 2018, holding that PASPA unconstitutionally commandeers the legislative powers of the states by dictating the content of state law. The Supreme Court therefore struck down PASPA in its entirety, New Jersey and other states have since implemented systems of legalized wagering on sporting events.
The attorneys in the Gibbons Sports Law practice help professional athletes and coaches to maximize their prospects while they are active in their fields, and to facilitate their transitions from professional athletes to business leaders by leveraging “off the field” opportunities. We help clients achieve financial security and personal stability. The professional athletes and coaches we represent rely on us for a full range of legal services, including player, coaching, and marketing contract negotiations; endorsement arrangements; business and deal structuring; tax consultation; litigation; real estate transactions; trust and estate planning; licensing negotiations and protection of trademarks, among other intellectual property rights; and various other legal and business matters affecting their professional careers and personal lives. We offer a key advantage: we provide the same services that traditional sports agents provide, but in a professional law firm environment where we zealously attend to and advance our clients’ needs and goals. We are certified as contract advisors by the National Football League Players Association and qualified to represent professional soccer players in contract negotiations with foreign and domestic clubs pursuant to Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Players’ Agents Regulations, as well as professional baseball players in contract negotiations with minor and major league baseball teams.