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Volume 21 No. 1
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Adam Klein, Katten Muchin Rosenman

Few sports attorneys are as busy these days as Adam Klein, who heads the sports practice for Chicago-based law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman. Among the recent high-profile deals in which he’s been involved are the $450 million sale of the Golden State Warriors, the $534 million sale of the Sacramento Kings, and the Los Angeles Lakers’ $3 billion, 20-year television deal with Time Warner Cable. Klein has spent more than 15 years at the firm, helping to build up its formidable practice.

— By John Lombardo

You have to have a sense of reasonableness and compromise to a certain extent in figuring out what is really important to the client. [Sports leagues] are monarchies, not democracies.

On getting a team sale done: It is not rocket science. It is pretty straightforward. It takes certain knowledge, and there has to be give and take. That’s the essence of a transaction as opposed to litigation. You’ve got to get approval of that particular league, and knowing the rules and the people and coming up with thoughtful ways to address the issues is what is very helpful.

On soaring franchise values: The media rights of teams have continued to become increasingly valuable. Will there be a time when that changes? I don’t see it right now.

Why not?: Sports is true reality TV that people want to see live. The leagues are healthy, and interactive media is helping as well. We are still going to have a rising tide. In baseball, the [San Diego] Padres and [Texas] Rangers were large valuations. It sets the expectations among owners, and I’m not sure in the near future when that is going to change.

On billionaire buyers: We are starting to relegate [team] sales to the billionaires of the world. You are seeing Guggenheim and other funds become more interested in these assets. They see the value, but the leagues have also become more flexible in dealing with these types of buyers because the world is more limited in finding individuals who have that wealth.

On the next NBA television deal: You try and lock in as many years as you can at the highest number. You will see a healthy growth rate in the dollars, but I’m not sure on how many years. There are more suitors. More bidders helps in a competitive landscape, and the rights go up nicely.