Joseph M. Leccese is the Chairman of the Firm and co-head of the Sports Law Group. He has a broad-based corporate practice with particular emphasis on the representation of professional sports leagues, teams and owners; college conferences; media and marketing companies; and financial institutions that provide capital to the broad array of transactions that occur in the sports industry.
Leagues, Teams and Owners
Joe's sports experience includes numerous matters for the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, PAC-12 Conference, Big East Conference, ATP World Tour, WTA Tour and NASCAR, as well as for a number of individual sports teams, owners and sports-related entities.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Joe has handled a number of matters relating to the acquisition, financing, operation and equity funding of professional sports teams, including the acquisition of the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. Joe continues to represent these and other clubs on a continuing basis. He also has represented bidders for many other teams across a broad variety of sports, both in privately negotiated sales and in auctions, and advised leagues and governing bodies on dozens of sales transactions over the past two decades.
Joe also represented the NBA in its grant of expansion franchises to Charlotte in 2002, Toronto and Vancouver in 1995, and Charlotte, Miami, Minnesota and Orlando in 1988 and 1989, and the NHL in its grant of expansion franchises to Atlanta, Columbus, Nashville and Minnesota in 1998-2000.
Stadium/Arena Construction and Financing
Joe has been the lead negotiator in multiple stadium and arena deals and financings, including in connection with the facilities developed by the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, New Jersey Devils and Orlando Magic, as well as the arena developed by the NBA in Charlotte. Joe currently is advising the Minnesota Vikings on its new stadium and has represented lenders in connection with a number of facilities-related financings, including the financing for Citi Field.
Joint Ventures and Start Ups
Joe has handled a variety of joint ventures and other innovative sports transactions, including the formation of NBA China, the WNBA, the NBA Development League and Legends Hospitality, a joint venture among affiliates of the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees and Goldman Sachs, and the sale to Providence Equity of an interest in Soccer United Marketing, the media and marketing affiliate of MLS.
Joe represented the "Basketball Seven" schools in the establishment of the "new" Big East Conference, the addition of the three other universities to the new Conference and the negotiation of its television agreement with Fox. Joe also has advised the Pac-12 Conference in connection with a number of matters, including the negotiation of its television agreements with ESPN and Fox and the establishment of the Pac-12 Network.
In 2011, Joe represented Learfield, one of the leading companies in college sports marketing and sponsorship, in the sale of a strategic equity interest to a private equity fund affiliated with Shamrock Capital Advisors.
Media and Sponsorship
Joe also has broad experience advising rights holders on regional, national and international television contracts with major telecasters; the exploitation of new media and technology rights; and a variety of matters relating to the exploitation of stadia and arenas, including naming rights, sponsorship agreements, seat licenses and related arrangements. Joe recently advised both NASCAR and the USGA in their respective telecast rights agreements.
Joe is a frequent speaker and lecturer on business and legal topics in sports.