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January 21, 2009 5:17 PM

Covington, Paul Hastings, and Akerman Senterfitt Smooth $1 Billion Dolphins Sale

Posted by Brian Baxter

New York real estate billionaire Stephen Ross completed his $1 billion acquisition of the Miami Dolphins football team on Tuesday from former owner and fellow billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga.

The sale of the Dolphins, one of the National Football League's most storied franchises, enlisted the efforts of some top-notch legal talent.

One source familiar with the transaction filled The Am Law Daily in on the legal players involved behind the scenes.

Martin Edelman, of counsel in the New York office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, represented Ross on the sale. Edelman, who has more than 30 years experience in real estate and M&A deals, is a long-time adviser to The Related Companies, the New York-based real estate developer founded and chaired by Ross.

Edelman was assisted by real estate partner Robert Wertheimer, real estate counsel Michael Kupin, tax counsel Edward Peck, and associate Randy Merkelson.

Ross, who began his career as a tax attorney, initially purchased a 50 percent stake in the team, 75,000-seat Dolphin Stadium, and land surrounding the stadium for $550 million in February 2008. The deal included an agreement whereby Ross would eventually become the team's managing partner.

Huizenga, an avid entrepreneur known for building brands like Blockbuster, Republic Services, and Waste Management into successful companies, was represented on the sale by sports practice group chair Edward Ristaino from Florida firm Akerman Senterfitt.

Ristaino has served as a long-time legal adviser to Fort Lauderdale-based Huizenga Holdings, the investment and entertainment conglomerate that controlled the Dolphins for Huizenga. In 1990, Huizenga bought a 15 percent interest in the Dolphins and 50 percent stake in the team's stadium for $168 million.

The NFL was advised on the transaction by its long-time outside counsel at Covington & Burling. Corporate partner Peter Zern, whose practice focuses on sports and media transactions, handled the matter for the firm along with associate Heather Davis.

As part of the deal, Huizenga will retain a 5 percent interest in the Dolphins.

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