Convergence and Divergence in Stadium Ownership Structures

Robert Sroka

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In the broader business law literature, much has been written on the supposed convergence trend of corporate governance practices. Yet this academic discussion has barely extended to the professional sports context and in the instances where professional sports governance has been at issue, stadiums and stadium ownership have not been the subject of analysis. With stadium construction and renovation projects regularly running into the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and ongoing stadium operations and debt repayments on such facilities often exceeding tens of millions each year, stadium governance is a significant aspect of business and corporate governance worth illuminating. This article aims to contribute to the closing of this literature gap.

Although there are many prospective paths of inquiry, this study focuses on stadium ownership structures in four wealthy Anglosphere jurisdictions with a substantial professional sports and stadium presence: England, the United States, Canada, and Australia. Beginning with the baseline of the English Premier League as a proxy for England, and continuing with a comparative examination primarily focused on the National Football League (NFL), Major League Soccer (MLS), Canadian Football League (CFL), Australian Football League (AFL), and A-League, this study evaluates 114 stadium ownership structures. After a literature review on corporate governance convergence trends, stadium finance, and motivations for stadium construction, I move to a descriptive overview of the stadium holding structure data set. This is followed by the core discussion of a number of legal influences on stadium ownership as well as the relationship of stadium ownership to club controlled ancillary real estate development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-194
Number of pages29
JournalDePaul Journal of Sports Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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