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Sports Business Journal issues
Volume 22 No. 44
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Nona Lee, Arizona Diamondbacks

Photo: Sarah Sachs / Arizona Diamondbacks
Photo: Sarah Sachs / Arizona Diamondbacks
Photo: Sarah Sachs / Arizona Diamondbacks

Nona Lee has been with the Arizona Diamondbacks for nearly the entire 20-year history of the team. But she is now at the center of some of the franchise’s biggest changes.

Lee played a key role helping negotiate the Diamondbacks’ 20-year rights extension in 2015 with Fox Sports Arizona, an estimated $1.5 billion deal that is the largest financial transaction in club history, and the development of the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick spring training complex, which involved working with a sovereign Native American community.

Nona Lee

Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, Arizona Diamondbacks
Born: Los Angeles
Education: B.A., broadcasting, Pepperdine University; J.D., Oklahoma City University School of Law

Now Lee is at the center of the club’s efforts to improve and replace Chase Field. The club in May completed a complex set of negotiations with Maricopa County that will allow the Diamondbacks to seek out potential sites for a new stadium and make them responsible for maintenance and event booking at the current ballpark.

“There has been a lot of change happening, and we’ve had our challenges. But now we’re at the beginning of another opportunity to grow the franchise and expand our brand,” Lee said. 

Lee is also the president of the Sports Lawyers Association, marking just the second time a woman has led that national organization in its more than 40 years of existence.

“I’ve been on the board there for some time, but it’s a huge honor to now be in this role,” she said. “My whole aim there is to really set this up for the future, getting more people involved and improving our outreach. There is a lot we can still do there.”

— Eric Fisher

Getting to know...

Proudest professional achievement: Becoming one of the few women to present at MLB salary arbitration hearings, and only the second woman to ever win a MLB salary arbitration hearing. The second is becoming only the second woman in the 40-plus-year history of the Sports Lawyers Association to hold the office of president.
Woman in sports business I’d like to meet: Serena Williams. She is a great example of hard work, determination and perseverance leading to tremendous success. I find her journey fascinating and inspiring.
I wish I’d known at my career’s start: How to better navigate the political landscape of being a woman in sports.
Role of sports in social issues: Sports is a unique and powerful platform with tremendous opportunity to effectuate social change in a thoughtful and impactful manner. Billie Jean King proved that with tennis and what she did with and for the women’s movement.