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Event partnerships require carefully crafted contracts

This is an excerpt from Managing Sport Events by T. Christopher Greenwell, Leigh Ann Danzey-Bussell, and David Shonk.


Types of Contracts

According to Spengler et al. (2009), a standard contract, "to be enforceable, must contain an offer, acceptance and considerations." There are also typical provisions that are customary in most contracts such as clearly identified parties involved, the terms of the agreement, the promises made, the responsibilities of all parties involved, and a clause for terminating the agreement. With regard to events, there are many potential partnerships that will need to be negotiated via contractual agreements. Allen and colleagues (2011) and Bladen and colleagues (2012) identified the following typical contracts associated with an event:

  • Venue
  • Game or entertainment
  • Sponsorship
  • Media
  • Security
  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Food and beverage
  • Waivers and releases

Because most facilities do not put on their own events, they look to lease or rent their facilities to event managers and planners in order to utilize their space as often as possible. Million-dollar multipurpose facilities do not want to stand idle. When planning an event, selecting the venue can be a cumbersome task. The type of venue will depend on the type of event you are producing: sports, entertainment, or charity. A venue contract is the most complex contract to negotiate (Bladen et al. 2012). Essential elements of this type of contract include the parties involved, the event (name and type), the date(s) and time(s) of the event, rental fees, cancellation stipulations, and costs (Cotten and Wolohan 2010). What makes it complex are the various clauses and addendums that are specific to your needs for your event. For example, Allen et al. (2011) list indemnification, security deposits, signage, and change orders (additions or alterations to the original contract) as possible clauses. Bladen et al. (2012) add to that list of clauses payment terms, security, food and beverage, and any additional venue staff that might be required and at what cost. Lawrence and Wells (2009) offer ancillary clauses that include any activities associated with the event but not part of the main attraction. Examples of ancillary events are banquets, awards presentations, and autograph signings scheduled around the event.


The main attraction of your event can be a game, a concert, or a performance. Regardless of the entertainment form, you will need to formalize a contract for participation. Entertainment contracts contain the common elements just discussed, but they also carry two unique items, an exclusivity clause and a rider. The exclusivity clause protects the event manager from the talent’s scheduling an event close by that could affect the event’s success (Allen et al. 2011). Exclusivity would potentially offer a geographic boundary from which to work. A rider is an amendment that spells out the requirements of the talent (Allen et al. 2011). The rider can involve any items the talent "must have," such as specific food or beverage items, transportation requirements, and dressing room necessities.


Game contracts are established so there will be no discrepancy in the terms of the agreement between teams participating in a single game or series of games. Certain necessities to be included are the date, time, location, rules and regulations that will be followed, compensation for playing, any travel reimbursement, and any other items negotiated by the two parties. Many state high school associations have created fillable forms for their respective schools to utilize. An example of a football game contract from the Georgia High School Association can be reviewed at www.ghsa.net/sites/default/files/documents/forms/OfficialContract-Football.pdf.


Chapter 6 outlines the various sponsorship opportunities for event managers. Sponsorship agreements and contracts are specific to the events and parties involved, so a standard fillable form for the agreement is not advised. Each sponsorship agreement or contract is established to "protect the best interests of all parties involved" (Ammon, Southall, and Nagel 2010, p. 116). Expectations, rights, benefits, fees, terms, governing laws, marks and logo usage, and duties should be expressed in the contract. Any items unique to the relationship should be spelled out, especially the critical component of establishing liability. In reviewing a sponsorship agreement from Florida International University (2009) (see figure 9.1), you begin to realize the complexity of a sponsorship agreement or contract and the need to involve legal counsel to ensure the protection of each party.



Read more from Managing Sport Events by T. Christopher Greenwell, Leigh Ann Danzey-Bussell, and David Shonk.



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