ArentFox Schiff Counsels National Women’s Soccer League on Bay Area Expansion

ArentFox Schiff served as legal counsel to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in a transaction awarding expansion rights for team #14 to an investment group led by Sixth Street Partners and a group of four US Women’s National Team legends comprising Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton, and Aly Wagner. 

The deal will bring a professional women's soccer team to the San Francisco Bay Area that will begin play in 2024. The transaction comes at a time when NWSL is experiencing record-breaking viewership, attendance, and sponsorship growth. 

The investment by Sixth Street Partners represents the first time an institutional investor has been granted the rights of a controlling owner of a major sports franchise in the United States, making this a landmark transaction in sports. It also reflects the increasing involvement of institutional investors as owners of teams and other sports-related businesses, which presents major sports leagues with unique business and legal considerations. Those factors include the investors’ structures and the interplay between the sports-related assets that are likely owned across their platforms.

The ArentFox Schiff team advising NWSL was led by Stephen Hanson, Hunter Carter, Felicia Xu, and Madeline Roe. In addition to this transaction, the firm recently advised the league on an expansion that will bring team #13 to Utah next year. By expanding its footprint to 14 member clubs, NWSL has nearly doubled in size since beginning operations in 2012.

From coast to coast, ArentFox Schiff boasts one of the most experienced and diverse sports law practices in the country, with clients spanning individuals, organizations, and teams involved with major league, minor league, and Olympic sports and Games. The group has extensive experience advising sports organizations, owners, and investors involved in the acquisition and sale of professional sports franchises and properties, with significant experience on the buy-side and sell-side.

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