The Atlanta Braves Are One Step Closer to a New Field

The Atlanta Braves are “thrilled” that the Cobb County Commission voted in favor of a public financing deal that will move the team out of downtown Atlanta for the first time since 1966. On November 26, 2013, by a 4-1 vote, the commissioners approved spending $300 million in tax revenues to fund part of a new $672 million Braves stadium.  The new field will open in 2017 and will be located in an Atlanta suburb.  The plan calls for the reallocation of current Cobb County property tax revenues as well as new taxes on businesses and tourism. As we reported, public financing deals are not uncommon.  In fact, almost all professional sports stadiums built in the past decades used some public funding.  Yet, time and again these deals prove to ...
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Is it the NHL’s Turn to Take a Hit on Concussions?

On November 25, the National Hockey League was sued by 10 former players in a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.  Plaintiffs – which include NHL alumni such as Gary Leeman, Curt Bennett and Richie Dunn – assert that the NHL hasn’t done enough to protect players from the dangers posed by concussions. Similar to the several thousand plaintiffs who recently settled the concussion litigation against the NFL (for $765 million), these former NHL alums assert that “The NHL’s active and purposeful concealment of the severe risks of brain injuries exposed players to unnecessary dangers that could have been avoided [if] the NHL provided them with truthful and accurate information and taken appropriate action to prevent needless harm.”  Further, the Complaint also alleges that ...
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The Ugly Truth of Public Financing

Despite research showing stadiums are a poor use of tax dollars, professional sports complexes are continually financed by cities, counties, and states. In the most recent example, Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves announced the team will move to a neighboring county after being promised $300 million in public funds for a new stadium, but some politicians plan to oppose the deal. For years, economists have been telling a different story than team owners want taxpayers to believe. Owners argue that a new stadium will create jobs, increase tourism, provide opportunities like hosting the Super Bowl, and offer other examples of economic growth.[1] Yet studies have shown the opposite.[2] New jobs are temporary, low-paying, or out-of-state.[3] Fans don’t increase spending; instead, they reallocate funds they would have spent elsewhere to the ...
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A New Potential Area of Liability Exposure to Equipment Manufacturers

Two more tragic deaths from brain injuries on the football field were reported in recent weeks. On November 11, Hopi (Arizona) High School football player Charles Youvella died from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a game the previous weekend. On November 14, Tipton (Missouri) High School football player Chad Stover died from a traumatic brain injury suffered in a game that took place two weeks earlier. The details of these two events, and any related legal issues, are unclear at this point. What is clear is that these tragedies are another two too many. As discussed in previous Sports and Entertainment Law Insider posts, the viability of claims against teams, leagues, and equipment manufacturers for concussion and other sports-related injuries remains subject to determination by the courts based on ...
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Lance Armstrong Settles and Avoids Questioning Under Oath

Just one day before Lance Armstrong was to be questioned under oath about his doping practices, he settled a lawsuit brought earlier this year and avoided his deposition. In February 2013, Acceptance Insurance Company sued Armstrong after he admitted to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.  The company, like many others, wants the money it paid to Armstrong back.  In Acceptance’s case, the company sought the return of $3 million in bonuses it paid for wins from 1999 to 2001. On November 20, Armstrong and the insurer reached a settlement.  The details of the agreement haven’t been released; the attorneys only said the case was “resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”  The settlement is no doubt a relief to Armstrong because, for now, he is able to ...
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The NCAA Faces Another Concussion Lawsuit

The number of class-action lawsuits pertaining to concussions filed against the NCAA is now at five. Attorneys for former Kansas fullback Christopher Powell filed the most recent suit in U.S. District Court in Western Missouri on November 18 alleging that the NCAA failed in its duty to protect its athletes from the concussion/head trauma hazards of football and are seeking damages for the chronic physical ailments Powell is suffering almost two decades after he finished his collegiate career. The lawsuit claims that Powell, who played from 1990-94, suffered four documented concussions during his collegiate career, including one significant one that resulted in memory loss. Powell’s lawsuit defines the potential class as former NCAA football players who suffered concussions or concussion-like symptoms during their careers, who did not play in the ...
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Free Beer + 2,500 Fans = Liability Concerns for Louisville University

Picture this: 2,500 fans rushing into a college basketball game bearing free beer vouchers. What could possibly go wrong? If you ask Louisville Cardinals’ Women’s Basketball head coach Jeff Walz, nothing at all. After all, Walz’s idea for boosting attendance at the WNIT semifinals game against LSU — provide free beer for fans, and they will come — worked, bringing more than 8,000 attendees to witness an 88-67 victory. To pull it off, the coach emptied his wallet and dropped $5,000 to buy the first 2,500 beers for 21-and-over fans who attended the game at the KFC Yum! Center, the Cardinals’ off-campus basketball facility. Fans with proper ID were given a voucher for one free beer, redeemable at stadium concession stands. In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Walz noted, ...
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The “Greatest Sports Business Deal Of All Time” Coming to an End?

The NBA, and more specifically, four of its teams, were on the wrong side of an historic windfall.  And now, they’re looking to get out of it. When the ABA merged with the NBA in 1976, the plan was to keep four of the league’s seven teams: the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, New York (later New Jersey and now Brooklyn) Nets and Indiana Pacers. The Virginia Squires were folded by the ABA before the end of the season due to financial problems.  The Kentucky Colonels and Spirits of St. Louis were folded as part of the merger, with compensation for the team owners.  Ozzie and Daniel Silna, the owners of the Spirits, wanted to be part of the teams going to the NBA, but were frozen out.  It is ...
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The Anti-Trust Suit Isn’t Over Yet for the NCAA

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken moved the Ed O’Bannon anti-trust lawsuit forward against the NCAA. On November 8, 2013, Judge Wilken certified a class of former and current college athletes suing the NCAA. The suit began in 2009, when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA for wrongfully profiting off the names and likeness of former student athletes in EA Sports video games. The judge ruled that players can seek a verdict forcing the NCAA and its member-schools to end restrictions on student-athlete compensation for use of their  name and likeness in television and marketing exposure. Although Judge Wilken’s ruling  appears to be a victory for the players, it does come with its limits. Judge Wilken held that  players cannot seek monetary damages regarding the impact that ...
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Tribeca Film Festival Sues Developer for $100 Million in Breach of Contract Lawsuit

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by Craig Hatkoff, Jane Rosenthal, and Robert DeNiro. It has generated an estimated $750 million in economic activity for New York City. It has strong ties to the community, a commitment to making cultural programming available to the public, and over four million people have attended its many cultural events. It seems that the Tribeca Film Festival would make a splendid business partner. Somehow, however, one developer is managing to botch the relationship. Pier 57 in the Meatpacking District has long been in need of a makeover. So the Tribeca Film Festival and developer Young Woo & Associates partnered to make that happen, only to have the developer exploit Tribeca’s good name in the bidding process, according to the complaint recently filed ...
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