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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.

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