Winstead PC Shareholder Denis Braham was interviewed by Law360 about the challenges players and members of Major League Baseball (MLB) and other sports organizations may face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. An excerpt is below:
“Major League Baseball postponed several games this week just days into the shortened 2020 season after more than a dozen players and other members of the Miami Marlins organization tested positive for COVID-19, a situation legal experts say shows that leagues must remain hypervigilant to protect the health of those involved and avoid legal headaches.
The league opened the 2020 season last week after a four-month delay forced by the global pandemic. Games over the opening weekend saw huge television viewership, with ESPN up 232% for its opening day broadcast from last year, reflecting pent-up demand for live sports.
However, just days later MLB is already dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak involving the Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies that came to light after the teams played a three-game opening weekend series in Philadelphia. At least 18 Marlins players, coaches and personnel traveling with the team have tested positive for the virus, according to ESPN, while the Phillies on Thursday shut down activities at their ballpark after a coach and a team staff member tested positive.
The situation has raised alarm bells for MLB and other sports leagues that are preparing to return to play amid the continuing spread of the virus, which has killed more than 150,000 Americans…
‘Any team or league is concerned about legal liability by holding these games," said Denis Braham of Winstead PC, whose practice focuses on sports team venue management. "I think they are all worried about that, which is why they have given the players the option to opt out of the season as well.’
Braham said he remains optimistic that MLB and other sports can resume so long as the leagues stick to protocols based on guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal, state and local health officials, even if that means remaining prepared to pause or shut down seasons if an outbreak cannot be contained.
‘I don't see any of the commissioners in any of the leagues blinking," Braham said. "At the same time, they are being cautious and are prepared to change direction if they have to. I think that is the best you can hope for.’”
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Braham is Chair of Winstead's Sports Business Group and member of the firm's Real Estate Development & Investments Practice Group and Industry Team. He has specific experience in the representation of clients in the sports industry. From venue financing and new stadium development to representing municipalities, sports commissions, and local organizing committees for major sporting events, Braham has worked with pro-sports and college sports and other sports clients throughout the country and internationally to provide business solutions to complex sports and venue transactions. Ranked among the Best Lawyers in America in Sports Law and Board Certified in commercial and residential real estate law, Braham has a broad-based real estate practice which regularly involves representation of all segments of the real estate industry and sports projects of all kinds including iconic stadium and arena projects, naming, sponsorship and concession rights, venue and team financings and franchise acquisitions.
Winstead is a national business law firm with nearly 300 attorneys who serve as trusted advisors to emerging, mid-market and large companies, both public and private. The Winstead team provides a range of core legal services that are critical to our clients achieving their business goals. Winstead’s business transactions and litigation practices serve key industries including aviation, financial services, healthcare, investment management/private equity, life sciences, real estate and sports business.