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Report: If new arena not built in Milwaukee league can buy back team from new owners

Apr 21, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT

When Herb Kohl agreed to a deal then announced the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to New York based hedge fund managers Marc Lasry and Wes Edens for a record $550 million, Kohl said he was confident the team was not moving. Lasry and Edens talked about putting together a unified effort to get a new arena built — and started by 2017 when the current lease is up — because their goal is to keep the team in Milwaukee.

Now we know why.

The contract to sell the team says if Lasry and Edens can’t get the area built the league can buy the team back from them rather than let them move it, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

The NBA has the right to buy back the Milwaukee Bucks from incoming owners Wesley Edens and Mark Lasry if a deal to a bring a new arena to the city is not in place by November 2017, according to sources briefed on the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that the sale agreement announced last week to transfer the Bucks from longtime owner Herb Kohl to Edens and Lasry for a purchase price of $550 million includes a provision that allows the league to buy back the team for $575 million if construction on a new building in Milwaukee is not underway by the deadline.

What that means is that Lasry and Edens can’t turn around and sell to Chris Hansen in Seattle or some other outside group looking to move the team and just turn a healthy profit as the middlemen (not that $25 million is shabby).

The question becomes if Lasry and Edens can’t get it built — with Kohl putting $100 million in the kitty and the new owners putting up that much or more of their own cash — then who can? And if this group can’t get an arena built, should the team be sold to be moved?

Adam Silver doesn’t want that (he pushed behind the scenes to give Sacramento the chance to hold off Seattle’s efforts last year), he believes in franchise stability. This seems like a situation that is prime to get that new arena built in Milwaukee and keep that historic franchise right there.

But now we know what the consequences are if the arena deal falters.

  1. mrlaloosh - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    Historic?

    • Kevin S. - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:53 PM

      They’ve been around since before the merger and won a title in the early 70s. That makes a historic franchise – just ask Knick fans!

  2. lj312chicago - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Made the hour…hour and half drive to Milwaukee last year for a bulls game….the Bradley center is an absolute dump.

  3. lj312chicago - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    You can walk around for 10-20 minutes in that place and not see anyone it’s a ghost town

    • antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      That’s like Dallas.

  4. eugenesaxe1 - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    With all the political bullcrap it takes to get an arena built, breaking ground by ’17 isn’t going to be easy. I wonder how much Silver’s going to charge the Seattle folks to buy the team (on top of the relocation fee).

  5. therealhtj - Apr 21, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    I can’t understand why Sacramento and Milwaukee are somehow entitled to a team, but a great NBA Town (and much bigger market) like Seattle gets railroaded.

  6. antistratfordian - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    Milwaukee has the Bulls right there not but an hour or so away. Seattleites have to drive 3 hours just to get close to the next NBA franchise. So just ship ‘em off to Seattle already.

    • innovativethinking87 - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:16 AM

      Seattle can watch Blazer games. It’s not that far to Portland..

      • eugenesaxe1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:39 AM

        174 miles, give or take. Like he said, 3 hours.

  7. greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Milwaukee is just a large suburb for Chicago anyways…..

  8. padraighansen - Apr 22, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Had the Tea Party wing nuts been active when the MAPS projects called for the building of the then-named Ford Center in OKC, it never would have been built, and The Thunder would not exist. Actually, they’d probably be in Kansas City. Point being, it has been a huge boost to the OKC metroplex. As for the Sonic fans – no one is happy about how the Sonics ended up in OKC, and I’d be more upset at both Stern & Schultz. But let’s be real: Wisconsin is voting to secede because they …..wait, why are they trying to secede? So, there will be no Bucks.

  9. duhwighthoward - Apr 22, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    They don’t need a new arena, they need a new team!
    OJ Mayo so fat now they call him Mayo Mayo

  10. tjmac95 - Apr 22, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    I have a feeling that this is laying the foundation to getting a team back in Seattle, the NBA will make sure there is no new arena built, force the team to sell the bucks to the NBA, then eventually selling the team to the same Seattle group that was trying to buy the kings.

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