Taft attorneys have a long history of representing sports interests in our region and nationally, including teams, team charitable foundations, ownership groups, investors, stadiums, and stadium operating companies. We have helped clients with a wide range of matters involving facilities; formation of team ownership entities, corporate structuring, and financing; real estate, land use, and zoning; stadium development and financing; federal, state, and local tax issues; negotiations with public stadium owners; sponsorship and marketing; relationships with patrons, suppliers, and athletes; labor relations; workers’ compensation; sanctioning by governing bodies; transfer of team ownership interests; vicarious liability to players, patrons, and others; and antitrust issues. We also know the major sports service providers and call upon them to support our clients’ success.

Taft’s sports group practice is perhaps best known for its general representation of multiple NFL teams.

Services include:

  • Counsel for the development, construction, and financing of professional sports stadiums.
  • Outside general counsel for sports franchises and ownership on all commercial matters and litigation.
  • Lender and team counsel for financing matters, including senior term, revolving credit facilities, league-wide credit facilities, senior secured construction term loan facilities, stadium financing, and fixed and variable rate demand notes.
  • Representation of large sporting and hospitality venues and tournaments in all types of commercial agreements, including agreements with hospitality vendors, retail stores, concessionaires, security, and IT vendors.
  • Advising clients on various business transactions, including pre-development agreements, construction/architect agreements, and post-development agreements.
  • Advising on partnerships, including banking/financial services, health care, concessionaire, gaming, and various sponsorships.
  • Advising sports clients on relationships with governmental bodies with whom our clients enter into leases, development agreements, tax credit and incentive programs, and other public-private partnerships in connection with sports and related facilities.


Taft’s finance team represents borrowers, lenders, and other stakeholders nationwide in complex financing and development transactions. Taft attorneys have served as lead counsel on development and construction financing for some of the country’s most innovative and admired sports stadium facilities, including Target Field in Minneapolis (Minnesota Twins) and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (Minnesota Vikings). Our attorneys routinely represent professional sports teams across the country on commercial lending-related matters, including teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. Taft attorneys have also handled sports financing matters involving the most significant lenders participating in the stadium and professional sports-related space and have represented NFL and MLB teams on league-wide and league-sponsored loan facilities.


Taft’s corporate team advises clients through major corporate transactions and day-to-day routine transactional matters. Our professionals have first-hand knowledge of the crucial role corporate law plays in the operations of professional sports teams and the organizations that manage them. From initial structuring and governance to inter-generational transfers and sales of interests in professional sports teams, Taft’s team has played a critical role in ensuring that teams and organizations comply with applicable laws, regulations, and league rules, all while facilitating the business aspects of professional sports team ownership and management.

Our corporate team also has nationwide experience working with applicants and governmental authorities to navigate all aspects of the pre-development process for large development projects in major metropolitan areas. We have represented clients seeking approval to construct projects, including negotiating agreements with and supervising architecture and design pre-development professionals, site engineering, traffic/environmental/impact studies, diversity and equity inclusion plans, and similar matters.

Commercial Agreements

Taft has significant experience representing professional sports teams with revenue stream-related agreements. Our attorneys have negotiated naming rights for stadiums (both team and sponsor representations), implemented personal seat license (PSL) programs, and negotiated sponsorship agreements. We also represent large sporting and hospitality venues in various industries in all types of commercial agreements, including agreements with hospitality vendors, retail stores, concessionaires, security, and IT vendors.

Real Estate

Taft’s nationally recognized team of more than 150 real estate attorneys and professionals work with owners, developers, contractors, design professionals, and governmental agencies on a wide range of real estate projects, both regionally and nationwide. Our stadium experience includes the development, design, and construction of U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis), Target Field (Minneapolis), Paycor Stadium (Cincinnati), and Heritage Bank Center (Cincinnati), as well as the Lindner Family Tennis Center (Cincinnati), home to the Cincinnati Open.

Land Use/Zoning

Taft’s land use/zoning team regularly seeks and obtains land use and zoning entitlements and other governmental approvals necessary to develop large, complex projects. Our attorneys have negotiated pre-development and development agreements for dozens of significant projects, including public-private partnerships for large mixed-use projects.


Attorneys in Taft’s construction practice advise owners, contractors, design-builders, developers, architects, subcontractors, engineers, and material suppliers on all aspects of public and private construction projects. While our priority is to avoid disputes and negotiate workable settlements when disputes arise, we have achieved successful results before courts, arbitrators, and contract appeals boards concerning all types of claims, including payment, performance, and insurance coverage disputes. Our construction attorneys also coordinate closely with other Taft attorneys with extensive experience in other aspects of construction project development, including project feasibility, tax considerations, brownfields and other environmental issues, zoning, joint ventures, financing options and negotiations, governmental incentives, and leasing.


Taft’s trial and employment attorneys have dealt with a wide range of litigation matters that have arisen in connection with our sports clients, including, for example, class action litigation related to seat licenses and season ticket terms. Taft attorneys have been active in the cottage industry of California workers’ compensation claims that have ensnared professional sports teams across the country. We have successfully limited our client’s exposure to such claims, including helping secure a recent California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board dismissal due to a lack of personal jurisdiction over our Ohio-based sports client. We have also addressed ADA issues related to sports facilities and team websites.

Related Practices

Notable Matters

  • Taft has represented the Cincinnati Bengals since the team was founded in 1967. We have been involved in all aspects of its corporate structure, litigation including class action representation and antitrust issues, tax, labor relations, workers’ compensation, facility development, and contracts with athletes, ticketholders, advertisers, sponsors, and suppliers. Taft was lead counsel for the development, design, and construction of Paul Brown Stadium, which opened on the riverfront in Cincinnati in 2000. Most recently, Taft has assisted with stadium naming rights, sports gaming agreements, stadium improvements, and other fan engagement-related commercial agreements.
  • Taft represents the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, including in connection with the financing, development, and operation of U.S. Bank Stadium, a $1.1 billion, 66,000-seat multi-use facility located in downtown Minneapolis. Taft also represented the team and its ownership in connection with the TCO Performance Center, a 194-acre mixed-use development of the former Northwest Airlines Headquarters site in Eagan, Minn., that includes the Vikings headquarters and training facility.
  • Taft represents MLB’s Minnesota Twins, including in connection with the development, financing, and construction of Target Field, a $550 million, 40,000-seat professional baseball stadium in downtown Minneapolis.
  • Taft has represented Cincinnati Tennis LLC, which owned and operated what is now the Cincinnati Open, a combined event bringing the world’s best men and women players to Cincinnati each August. Taft also represents Tennis for Charity, a non-profit organization that owns the tournament venue. Over the years, we have been involved in every aspect of the event, including structure and ownership, the relationships between the tournaments and the sanctioning bodies, international licensing agreements, sponsorship and advertising contracts, facility development and financing, and other related matters.
  • Taft has represented the ownership group of the Indy Fuel, a minor league ice hockey team in the ECHL, and related companies by negotiating several license and lease agreements, sponsorships and naming rights, food and beverage, insurance, security, and other related matters.
  • Taft serves as outside counsel to the Columbus Clippers, AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. In this capacity, we have assisted them in financing and construction of the new Huntington Ballpark, as well as in intellectual property matters, labor and employment issues, and other general legal matters.
  • Taft represents the Heritage Bank Center and its prime tenant, the Cincinnati Cyclones hockey team, which plays in the ECHL.
  • Taft attorneys are regularly called upon by the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and Case Western Reserve University for sports-related matters both large and small. Prior to our current representation of the University of Cincinnati, we represented the NCAA when it was sued by the University of Cincinnati in connection with a potential downgrade of the University’s athletic status.
  • Taft represented FC Cincinnati during its time in the United Soccer League. Our lawyers represented the team in litigation, employee relations, and intellectual property matters.
  • Taft successfully defended International Speedway Corporation in antitrust litigation brought against it and NASCAR by the Kentucky Speedway.
  • Taft represented NASCAR Holdings in a successful appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court on the application of Ohio taxes to NASCAR’s broadcast and licensing revenues.
  • Taft attorneys are experienced with golf course development and representing developers, golf course architects, and professional golfers.