Richard Rubano ’07, a partner at DLA Piper, was recognized as a Law360 Rising Star among sports and betting law practitioners under age 40 for his work guiding some of the most significant sports team acquisitions in recent years.
The biggest deal of his career:
Amid the skyrocketing valuations for sports franchises — particularly in the NBA — Rubano led a DLA Piper team representing Tilman Fertitta, a billionaire restaurateur and Houston native, in a $2.2 billion acquisition of the Houston Rockets.
“That was a record price paid for an NBA franchise,” Rubano said. “It was a highly competitive auction. It required multiple specialist groups across our firm. It was about as large of an M&A transaction that you will see in the space and really kind of pulled together all of the attributes that really make the DLA platform.”
The deal was announced in September 2017, just two months after the former owner Leslie Alexander — who outbid Fertitta for the Rockets in 1993 — announced his intent to sell the team after 24 years at its helm. Fertitta, the president and CEO of Landry’s Inc. and an initial investor in the NFL’s Houston Texans, did not want to miss out on the Rockets a second time.
Rubano, who had worked on the more than $700 million purchase of the Atlanta Hawks just two years earlier, helped Fertitta navigate what became a highly competitive bidding process to land the franchise. The team had been valued by Forbes at $1.65 billion before the sale.
“We were able to execute on that transaction in an exceptionally quick form,” Rubano said. “It was a highly competitive process to buy that team. It was definitely one that sticks out to me and was fun to work on.”