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Report: Sale of Milwaukee Bucks for record $550 million agreed upon, team to stay in Milwaukee

Apr 16, 2014, 12:57 PM EST

It has been rumored for weeks, but Marc Stein of ESPN reports it will become official today — longtime owner Herb Kohl will sell the Milwaukee Bucks to a group committed to keeping them in Milwaukee.

Herb Kohl purchased the Bucks in 1985 for $18 million. Just remember that next time an owner talks about their annual losses with their team (franchise valuation is not part of that calculation).

This looks like a big win for Bucks fans, at least at first glance.

That sale price is 27 percent more than the $405 million that Forbes estimated the Bucks to be worth. The sale will need to be approved by the league’s owners after the buyers go through a thorough background check. However the sales are almost always approved.

Kohl had been looking for new owners for some time but refused to talk to people such as Chris Hansen and his Seattle group because he only wanted an owner that would keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, are hedge-fund billionaires based out of New York who Forbes estimates at having a combined net worth around $3 billion. It is unclear yet if there were be some minority owners joining the group based out of Milwaukee (or even somewhere in the Midwest), to ease concerns about moving the team.

To keep the team in Milwaukee will require a new arena — Commissioner Adam Silver has said as much, the current arena lacks many luxury boxes — and how that gets done will be the big question. Lasry and Edens will have to pony up some cash, Kohl may as well, but they also likely will ask for public money and that would be a much more difficult get.

It is not clear yet what happens if a new arena cannot get built, and on what timeline all that would happen.

Also not clear is what that means for the current front office and coaching staff. Getting the sale approved likely will not impact this draft — where the Bucks have the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick following their terrible season — or maybe even next season. But new owners inevitably bring changes.

They buy a team with a potentially good core of young players — Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Larry Sanders, plus this year’s draft pick — that could develop into an interesting team in a few years with the right management and coach. And if they start to win they will sell out any new building.

  1. alshonsmeathooks - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    i hope the United Center North 2.0 is nice

    • boscoesworld - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Yes it will be. We all know how you flatlanders like to get away from your rat holes.

    • hwatt - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      oh.. I think I get it. is it bc Chicago natives go up there?… only when the bulls play…

  2. rajbais - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    It’s okay if they stay in Milwaukee, but can it be in a place that’s not the Bradley Center?

    That place is a dump?

    • saudishot - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      You’re right?

    • fm31970 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      It’s not a dump at all. It’s very basic, without any play areas, concourse entertainment features, and very few luxury boxes as mentioned in the article, but it’s clean, well maintained, and safe…just outdated and at the low end of the NBA revenue generating stream.

      Let’s not forget Herb Kohl’s name is on the Kohl Center in Madison, and he’s well aware of his legacy and what he means to Wisconsin.

      • bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Perfect reply, thank you.

    • bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Let me take a wild guess:

      You’ve never been to the Bradley Center.

      • rajbais - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:12 PM

        Sorry for the insult.

        Newer is better because NBA people are people too.

      • bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        The Bradley Center is far from a dump, which is why I replied to your comment. My wild guess was correct?

  3. karlton3 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Good luck getting public financing when you’re contractually liable to not use your biggest bargaining chip (moving).

    • therealhtj - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:10 PM

      Keep believing that. No arena, team go bye bye.

      • ewyorksockexchange - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        If it’s a condition of the sale, and there’s no out clause, they legally cannot leave. So it’s more like “no arena, team go play on public asphalt courts until they pony up the cash for a new stadium on their own”.

  4. officialgame - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    OK so a group of hedge fund millionaire’s pay a ridicules amount of obey to purchase a team (550M) and now want a broke city and it’s taxpayers to pay go a new arena? The reality is the team is worth 75M and if the new owners want a new stadium the should pony up the 475M and fund it themselves. How is it the old owner walks away with 550M for his decrepit team and the new owner complain about what they just purchased. Only in America.

    • lifer124 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      The new owners asked for tax money already? Where are you getting your news? Who said Kohl isn’t going to put up any of his own money for an arena? (he has said he would do so) Only in America can you just make stuff up and pretend like you know what you’re talking about.

      • therealhtj - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Why would Kohl pony up money to build an area for a team he doesn’t own?

      • lifer124 - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        He just did pony up money for the team he doesn’t own in fact. $100 million to be exact.

    • bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      So much fail in this comment…

      I’m not saying it’s right but every team is going to try to get the city/county to pay for or a share of a new arena because in almost all cases they will. Again I’m NOT saying it’s right but it happens. Frequently.

      The new owners aren’t complaining about what they bought. They bought it with the intention of building a new arena in Milwaukee. Herb Kohl has said he will help finance it with his own money if it comes to that. If a new arena doesn’t get built in Milwaukee(in x amount of time) it will be built in another city and the Bucks will play there.

  5. timmons94 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    I like the Bradley center. Going tonight. Hawks have a lot of luxury boxes and club seating. Guess what a lot of those club seats are regular seats and a lot of those boxes stay empty. Still need to win for fans to come

  6. mvp43 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    Good news……this could be the jump start the Bucks need. Contrary to popular belief, the Bradley Center is not a dump, but it clearly needs replacing. I’m guessing that Kohl will put forth a ton of money along with the new owners, The balance would be publicly funded as are most stadium deals.

    Bottom line:

    1. Billionaire owner
    2. New Arena
    3. Top pick

    That equals great news for milwaukee

  7. fnc111 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Greedy billionaires can burn in hell. Asking the public for money to build a new stadium? What a sick joke.

  8. fnc111 - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    At least eight teams should be contracted in the NBA. The first two should be Detroit and Milwaukee.

    • boscoesworld - Apr 16, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Looks like you “contracted” something!

    • bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      I believe Detroit and Milwaukee are contracted to play 82 regular season games plus any additional playoff games that may or may not be needed.

  9. readysethike - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Can the Bucks swap conferences with the Grizzlies. Grizzlies are actually more of an eastern conference team geographically than the Bucks

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      haha Grizzlies would have a legit shot to win the east this year.

    • goodknave - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Memphis is a good distance west of Milwaukee. Invest in a map.

      • jayb330 - Apr 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        La Crosse, WI is further west than Memphis is. Good grief, get a map yourself.

      • jimeejohnson - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:54 PM

        Hey idiot: Memphis is south of Milwaukee. It’s not that far west you arrogant dipweed.

  10. quizguy66 - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    “Can the Bucks swap conferences with the Grizzlies. Grizzlies are actually more of an eastern conference team geographically than the Bucks”

    This is 100% true – until one actually consults a map and looks at where the two cities are and then they’ll note that Milwaukee is east of Memphis.

  11. mvp43 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    The Bucks were in the western conf at one time.

    As far as public money goes, I’m pretty anti-tax on most things but I will approve of a tax that helps to keep a NBA franchise in Milwaukee. Miller Park worked out just fine.

    I’m guessing that Kohl and the new owners will put a sizable chunck of dough into a new arena and infrastructure with the balance paid as a new tax. Hey, its 1 trip through the drivethru- no big deal.

    • fm31970 - Apr 16, 2014 at 7:12 PM

      Any of us locals will probably agree the Bucks are fourth in popularity after the Packers, Brewers, and Badgers (football, basketball, hockey), and the approval for Miller Park funding was anything but easy. Remember the reps in Racine who were thrown out of office after they voted against what their constituents wanted? Plus, IIRC, we are still paying the .01% tax to pay for Miller Park…14 years later.

      It’s going to be a very difficult process, but I think it will eventually get done. Herb Kohl is BELOVED in WI, and he’s always been dedicated to keeping the Bucks here, which will likely be a major factor in a new arena being constructed. His millions of dollars will be a factor, too, but it’s a unique situation, with a unique (soon to be former) owner.

      Plenty of space one block north on the former Park East strip of land…

  12. fnc111 - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Good deal west? They’re virtually equal on a map.

  13. logicalcomment - Apr 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    They just locked up the first overall pick !

  14. mvp43 - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Best mascot in sports!! bar none

  15. badgerbuck - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:25 PM

    Seattle is still getting this franchise count on it.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:52 PM

      Hope so.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      Pretty sure that would require the new owners to sell the team to Hanson unless they want to build their own arena with their own billions.

    • bougin89 - Apr 17, 2014 at 9:32 AM

      I would recommend not putting money on that.

  16. kwame410 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    Move the team to Seattle then move the OKC to the eastern conference to balance out the confrances

  17. jollyjoker2 - Apr 17, 2014 at 6:02 PM

    time for a new arena…tax those smokers and give it the billionaires …we want to see BB .

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