(PHOENIX) June 15, 2017 – Continuing its push for a Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion team, Phoenix Rising Football Club announced today its engagement of O’Melveny &Myers LLP and the Co-Chairs of the firm’s Sports Industry Practice, Charles “Chuck” Baker and Irwin P. Raij to their team of advisors. Baker and Raij are highly respected in sports acquisitions and stadium development arena and add considerable MLS-specific advisory engagements to Phoenix Rising, including successful engagements with LAFC, NYCFC, Atlanta United, DC United and Orlando SC.
“We are honored to add Chuck Baker and Irwin Raij, two of the smartest and most engaged dealmakers in the sports and entertainment industry, to our advisory team,” said Brett M. Johnson, Co-Chairman and Alternate Governor of Phoenix Rising FC. “Chuck’s experience advising other successful MLS Expansion Franchises through this process will be invaluable, as we continue to put the finishing touches on Phoenix Rising FC’s MLS Expansion plans. Additionally, Irwin’s MLS experience and broad based extensive stadium experience is critical, as we work with stakeholders to finalize our privately financed stadium plan for MLS.”
“Irwin and I are thrilled to be part of the momentum rapidly building around Phoenix Rising FC and their MLS aspiration,” said Baker. “This is the right ownership group, in the right market.”
“We are excited for the opportunity to work with Phoenix Rising and its uniquely compelling partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to build an MLS worthy facility in the community,” added Raij. "We’re proud to support this initiative and to help Phoenix Rising FC achieve their ambitions to join MLS.”
Baker’s corporate practice at O’Melveny encompasses mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and venture capital transactions, with a core focus in the sports, media and consumer sectors. He has represented buyers and sellers of sports franchises in the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and many of the European football leagues. Baker was recognized by Law360 in 2015 and 2016 for his stellar M&A and sports law work, and by the Global M&A Network for his work on the sale of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team, naming it the “2015 USA Deal of the Year” at its prestigious M&A Atlas Awards. He was also featured in Sports Business Journal’s 2016 list, “Power Players: Sports Lawyers & Outside Counsel.”
Raij’s transactional practice at O’Melveny includes the representation of owners and acquirers of professional sports teams and leagues, including MLB, MiLB, MLS, NBA, NHL, NFL, and EPL. He is also an owner of the Oklahoma City Dodgers (MiLB), and the MLS Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). He has handled new stadium development projects, project program and development counseling, financing, construction, license/lease agreements, construction agreements, management agreements, concessions, merchandising, ancillary development, licensing arrangements, promotional and advertising agreements (including naming rights), sports technology counseling/ventures, ticketing arrangements, stadium service agreements, RSN formation, and television, radio and media rights agreements and has successfully negotiated complex public-private partnerships. He was also featured in Sports Business Journal’s 2016 list, “Power Players: Sports Lawyers & Outside Counsel.”
Legal 500 USA recently recognized O’Melveny, Baker and Raij for their “strong track record in transactional and financing mandates.”
Today’s announcement represents another milestone for Phoenix Rising FC’s bid for Of the 12 finalist cities for MLS expansion, Phoenix is ranked No. 1 in Millennials, Hispanics and total population. MLS would need to add expansion teams in two other cities on the list of finalists to equal the TV households of one expansion team located in Phoenix.a MLS Expansion team. MLS expansion is driven by several factors, including ownership group, market size and stadium financing plan. Retaining O’Melveny & Myers is the latest critical step in continuing Phoenix Rising’s rapid ascent to the finalist-list for MLS consideration.
About Phoenix Rising FC
Phoenix Rising FC is the highest-level professional soccer franchise in Arizona’s history. Legendary Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, Kona Grill CEO Berke Bakay and an impressive collection of business leaders and international celebrities, own the club. Established in 2013, Phoenix Rising FC enters its fourth year in the United Soccer League, which has been awarded Division 2 status by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Major League Soccer (MLS) recently announced Phoenix Rising FC as among 12 applicants being considered for a MLS Expansion Franchise. Phoenix Rising FC sold-out all six home matches played so far during the 2017 USL season with standing room only crowds in its new, soccer-specific stadium located at the northwest corner of the 101 and 202 freeways in south Scottsdale.
For more information about the club, visit the team's website at PhxRisingFC.com. You can also follow the team on Facebook (PHXRisingFC), Twitter (@PHXRisingFC), Instagram (@PHXRisingFC), Snapchat (PHXRisingFC) and YouTube (PhoenixRisingFootballClub). For season tickets or single-game tickets call (623) 594-9606 or visit PHXRisingFC.com.
About O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s Sports Industry Group O’Melveny & Myers offers decades of experience handling legal work for leading global sports, entertainment and media clients, including complex media and other licensing arrangements, strategic joint ventures, financings, intellectual property, stadium financings and naming rights deals, acquisitions and dispositions, sponsorships and endorsements, high profile litigation and other disputes.
O’Melveny & Myers has a proven track record of representing domestic and international clients involved in NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, MLS, WNBA, MMA, NASCAR, eSports, Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, cycling, boxing, golf, triathlon, action sports, skateboarding and more. The firm’s roster of clients includes domestic and international governing bodies, professional sports leagues and associations, television and new media companies, corporate sponsors, financial institutions, team owners and investors, developers of sports complexes (stadiums, arenas, broadcast studios, etc.), individual athletes and teams, sports promoters and other companies operating in the sports industry.
About the USL
The USL is the world’s largest Division II professional soccer league, with 30 markets in 20 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces for the 2017 season. In total, the USL reaches a population of 75 million people, fueling the growth of professional soccer across North America.
In 2016, more than $100 million were invested league-wide into stadium infrastructure to create venues that deliver an unforgettable fan and competitor experience. The USL has national media partnerships with ESPN and
SiriusXM, and recently invested $10 million to create USL Productions – which includes a state-of-the-art facility that will produce and distribute nearly 500 league matches and more than 1,000 hours of original content to national partners, local affiliates, USL’s Match Center and international markets.
A growing league, the USL has more than doubled in size since 2014, with Ottawa Fury FC, Reno 1868 FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies debuting in 2017. Nashville SC is the first club set to join the league for 2018. Beyond league play, the USL regularly features international exhibitions against leading Premier League, Liga MX, and Bundesliga clubs, among others.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., the USL provides unparalleled club support with a growing team of 50 professionals across 17 departments, ranging from operations to marketing, communications and sponsorship. Follow the USL at Instagram and Facebook, Twitter, the USL Match Center, and on social media via USLSoccer.com