Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:15 pm
The NBA board of governors today approved the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks by former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl to an investment group led by private equity investors Marc Lasry and Wes Edens for $550 million.
The approval, which was confirmed by the Bucks’ Twitter account, clears the way for the new owners to take control of the team before the league’s draft lottery on Tuesday, May 20. The Bucks will have 25 percent of the ping pong balls and the best odds to win the lottery for the top pick after an NBA-worst 15-67 record last season.
The authorization also enables the new owners to begin lobbying for an agreement to build a new arena for the team in Milwaukee.
Kohl has pledged a $100 million gift for the development of a new arena team. The new owners have pledged to contribute at least an additional $100 million toward a new arena. However, those contributions fall far short of the costs needed to build an arena, which are estimated to be at least $500 million.
Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), is taking the lead to rally support for a public/private regional partnership to generate funding needed to invest in southeastern Wisconsin’s entertainment, museum and zoo venues.
Lasry and Edens are hoping to forge a public-private funding deal to replace the aging BMO Harris Bradley Center similar to the agreement recently finalized in Sacramento for the Kings. In that deal, the Kings’ new $477 million arena is getting $254 million from the team and $223 from government funding. However, there are already opposition groups in Wisconsin lining up against public funding for the Bucks.
In a unique part of the sales contract, the NBA has reserved the right to buy the Bucks back from Lasry and Edens for $575 million if a new arena agreement in Milwaukee is not finalized by 2017, when the Bucks’ current lease expires. The league would then decide whether or not the Bucks stay in Milwaukee.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said a new arena would be required to keep the team in Milwaukee.
“We are pleased that Wes Edens and Marc Lasry have been approved as the new owners of the Milwaukee Bucks,” Silver said. “The Bucks and their fans will benefit greatly from their vast business experience, energy and strong commitment to Milwaukee. I would like to thank Senator Kohl again for his unprecedented and historic financial gift toward the construction of a new Milwaukee arena and for his outstanding service to the league and his community over his nearly 30-year tenure.”
Steve Costello, president and CEO of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, today released the following statement after it was announced that the NBA had approved the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks:
“This is an exciting and historic day for Milwaukee and for fans of Milwaukee Bucks basketball. The new ownership group led by Marc Lasry and Wes Edens are committed to bringing new energy, new enthusiasm and new ideas. Our Board of Directors and all of us at the BMO Harris Bradley Center look forward to working with them to help make attending a Bucks game one of the most exciting and entertaining fan experiences possible. As we look toward the future, it’s also important to acknowledge former Sen. Herb Kohl for being an incredible owner and a tireless cheerleader for the team and the community. We at the BMO Harris Bradley Center are honored to have had the opportunity to work with and be inspired by him. His impact on the metro Milwaukee region as the owner of the Bucks has been positive and indelible, and we are grateful for his tireless efforts and wonderful stewardship of this cherished franchise. As a new era in Milwaukee Bucks basketball begins, we will work closely with Marc, Wes and the entire Bucks organization during the summer to prepare again to open our doors to Bucks fans for what undoubtedly will be an exciting and fun 2014-15 season.”