Sports, Media & Entertainment
- Who To Contact
- Representative Matters
- Recent Developments
The Aird & Berlis Sports, Media & Entertainment Group brings deep industry knowledge and expertise to a multifaceted and multi-jurisdictional practice. The members of our Group, who are prominent in their respective fields, possess a unique understanding of the interrelated issues in the sports, media and entertainment industries.
Whether you are negotiating a contract or sponsorship agreement, structuring a business transaction, protecting your intellectual property rights, navigating ever-changing regulations, managing the construction or day-to-day operation of sports & entertainment complexes, or requiring assistance with tax planning or the handling of a dispute, our Group has the experience you can rely on.
Several members of our Group competed at the national level in various sports. We bring that same level of focus and discipline to providing counsel to athletes and organizations on a broad range of matters involving local, national and international professional sports organizations and high-profile sport and multi-sport events. We have experience dealing with the world’s major sports leagues, including the NHL, NBA, MLS, F1, FIFA and the English Premier League and Champions League. Our roster of clients includes owners of professional sports teams, sports associations and other organizations, executives, professional and amateur athletes and coaches, directors, multi-sport event organizers, funding partners and broadcasters. Our expertise encompasses governance issues under the Canadian and International Olympic Committee frameworks and the Pan American Sports Organization.
We are also uniquely positioned to advise on entertainment law issues. The dynamic evolution of digital distribution networks and platforms pose challenges and opportunities for creators and distributors of media and entertainment content. Our team advises content producers and distributors, including musicians, artists, authors and film and television studios in Canada and internationally.
Our Sports, Media & Entertainment Group is at the forefront of legal representation and expertise in esports, an evolving industry positioned at the intersection of sport, media, entertainment, technology and creative content. We act on local, regional, national and international matters for professional gamers, teams, leagues, gaming organizations, investors and financing parties, underwriters and sponsors, governments and regulatory agencies, hardware and software companies, entertainment, promotion and advertising companies, media and broadcasters, and others. We appreciate the many connections that esports have with other areas of industry, including publishing, gambling, hospitality, event production, finance and entertainment.
Our familiarity with and passion for the sports, media and entertainment industries extends beyond the practice of law. Our members believe in giving back and are heavily involved with numerous non-profit industry associations, national and international federations, governing bodies and charitable organizations. Examples include the MLSE Foundation, Hockey Canada, the Greater Toronto Hockey League, Tennis Canada, the International Tennis Federation, the Ontario Hockey Federation, Alpine Ontario Alpin, the 13th Pan American Games and the David Foster Association. In addition, we have proudly provided financial and other non-legal support to high-performance athletes, national teams and international sporting organizations, including sponsoring athletes and teams in Olympic Games since 2006.
We have particular Sports, Media & Entertainment expertise in the following areas:
- Intellectual Property
- Labour & Employment
- Corporate & Commercial
- Privacy & Data Security
Select examples of our lawyers’ representative expertise is set out below. Please note that in some instances, the client name is not provided due to reasons of confidentiality.
- Provide ongoing advice to athletes, teams, corporations, National Sporting Organizations and player unions in connection with sponsorships, promotions, contractual arrangements, branding and intellectual property, tax structuring and other matters that may arise from time to time, such as litigation, real estate and immigration.
- Represent athletes, National Sporting Organizations and other such entities on complaints, code of conduct violations, safe sport and related matters.
- Advise national and local sporting organizations with respect to corporate structuring and governance.
- Advise players’ associations on matters relating to branding, contractual arrangements, sponsorships, governance and corporate structuring.
- Provided tax planning advice to a Toronto Raptors basketball player.
- Successfully defended a Canadian hockey player in a publicized dispute with the CRA.
- Provided tax planning advice to the owner of an NHL franchise.
- Advised PGA TOUR, Inc. in connection with its Canadian branding.
- Advised an internationally-renowned soccer player on Canadian branding matters.
- Negotiated construction contracts for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
- Advised on procurement and construction matters relating to the Mosaic Stadium Project [Regina, Saskatchewan].
- Advised on a syndicated lending transaction involving CIT Lending Corporation and a professional sports team, an arena holding corporation, a ticketing entity and a concession entity, all of which was subject to the governing body of the particular professional sport.
- Advised on the purchase of a sports memorabilia company.
- Lead counsel in the successful CCAA restructuring of National Sports, resulting in Canada’s first DIP loan, refinanced through one of Canada’s first asset-based loans.
- Counsel to Walt Disney Parks & Resorts US Inc. in the insolvency proceedings commenced by Cirque du Soleil Canada Inc. and certain related entities under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.
Esports & Gaming
- Advised a leading technology games publisher on its Canadian launch.
- Advised Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, in respect of its merger with Super Group, the parent of Betway, a global technology company delivering the world’s leading, regulated, online betting and gaming brands, to create a global gaming company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
- Advised a U.K. sports betting company on licensing and registrations relevant to the Canadian market and corporate matters.
- Advised the publisher of one of the world’s most popular first-person shooter video games.
- Provided corporate and regulatory advice to an esports specialty hardware manufacturer.
- Represented a leading sports and esports gambling business in government procurement processes and corporate and regulatory matters.
- Advised on the acquisition of one of the leading fantasy esports providers, including on the relevant Canadian regulatory and compliance context.
- Provided advice to counsel of a leading fantasy sports operator on Canadian legal matters.
- Advised a leading sports and esports gambling business on regulatory processes and licensing/registration matters.
- Advised a Canadian provincial industry regulatory agency in regard to the potential regulation of the industry.
- Advised a variety of entertainment, gambling and hospitality operators on the adoption of esports into their business operations.
- Advised a syndicate of underwriters of a major payment processor in relation to Canadian legal risks associated with online products and services, including gaming/gambling.
- Assisted a Canadian-based gaming and esports company with operations in North America and Europe in contemplation of a securities offering.
- Advised a U.S. gaming company focused on the development of gaming facilities in connection with its interest in expanding into Canada.
- Advised the Government of Ontario on the establishment of the Slots at Racetracks Program.
- Advised technology companies in structuring Internet sweepstakes, skill-based offerings, social gaming platforms and compliance with federal and state laws.
Media & Entertainment
- Represented Aubrey “Drake” Graham in structuring an endorsement deal with Canopy Growth Corporation.
- Represented Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Roc Nation and his affliate entity Caliva and Left Coast Venture resulting in the launch of the largest vertically integrated cannabis operation in California and the largest Cannabis SPAC in history.
- Advised on the tax structuring for The Tragically Hip cross country final tour, and for Gord Downie & the other members of the band.
- Advised Loud & Live on their Canadian concert series.
- Advised Jason Cloth, an executive film producer, on several joint ventures.
- Provided tax planning for a Virtual Immersive Exhibit across Canada.
- Provided Canadian tax planning to a renowned Canadian born international superstar.
- Advised on a structuring deal for an up and coming Canadian singer with a U.S. financial sponsor.
- Provided Canadian tax planning for one of the top international DJs.
- Structured a Canadian concert for an internationally renowned opera singer.
- Structured a joint venture between a Canadian and a U.S. company for a musical Broadway show.
- Representing global streaming companies with respect to the Canadian regulatory framework.
- Represented a Fortune 100 company and world leading producer and provider of entertainment and information in trademark, copyright and litigation proceedings.
- Represented a major Canadian telecom/media company on regulatory approval of the transfer of control under the Broadcasting Act and Competition Act in connection with a proposed acquisition.
- Provided Shaw Communications Inc. with regulatory counsel on the acquisition of Shaw Media Inc. by Corus Entertainment Inc.
- Advised Mr. X Inc., a digital studio specializing in feature film animation and visual effects, on employment matters in connection with the sale of its business to a Canadian subsidiary of Technicolor S.A., a worldwide media and entertainment technology leader.
- Represented Canadian film distributors before the Canadian Copyright Board on the use of copyrighted audio visual material.
- Advising Rogers Communications Inc. on regulatory compliance under the Broadcasting Act and Competition Act issues in connection with a proposed media acquisition.
- Represented the shareholders of Phase 4 Films with its sale to Entertainment One Ltd. (LSE:ETO), a leading international entertainment company that specializes in the acquisition, production and distribution of film and television content.
- Advised major U.S. studios on acquisitions and commercial transactions in Canada and on regulatory and competition law matters.
- Advised The Cordish Company on its joint venture with Woodbine Entertainment Group in connection with the development of up to 3 million square feet of commercial space adjacent to the Woodbine racetrack.
- Represented ROW Entertainment Income Fund in connection with the acquisition of Koch Entertainment for a purchase price of US$80 million.
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