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Report: NBA owners to approve sale of Bucks Thursday

May 14, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

This was expected to happen soon — if you find guys willing to spend $550 million on the Milwaukee Bucks, you jump on it.

The NBA found that with hedge fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and those two are expected to be approved by the owners on Thursday, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, there was a push within the league to have an extra thorough vetting of the new owners, sources said. That process, however, is complete and the league’s Board of Governors will approve the transaction that was initially signed last month.

The timing of the sale will allow Edens and Lasry to take control of the team before next Tuesday’s draft lottery in New York, which was a priority. The Bucks, at 25 percent, have the highest odds to win the lottery after an NBA-worst 15-67 season. The high draft choice in what is expected to be a deep draft was one of the attractive selling points of the team.

The lottery will be exciting, but that’s not where the real work with the Bucks will be — they need a new arena.

Edens and Lasry have said they would pitch in $100 million toward a new arena, and soon-to-be former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100 million. That’s a lot of cash, but it’s only about two-fifths of what will be needed. Edens and Lasry need to find the other money (likely trying convince the local or state government to pitch in, which will be a tough sell), then they need to get a location and start the approvals process.

The deadline is 2017, when the Bucks current lease is up.

If a new arena deal is not in place, the sale agreement says the league can buy the Bucks back from Edens and Lasry for $575 million. That would prevent them from just moving the team or trying to flip it.

  1. bougin89 - May 14, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    What I don’t understand is if a new arena isn’t built by 2017(that’s a real possibility), the NBA buys the Bucks so theoretically they will stay in Milwaukee?

    That’s going to be a tough sell in 2017ish for someone to buy the Bucks from the NBA knowing the previous owners tried and couldn’t build an arena, for $575 million.

    If this plays out as stated above I imagine the NBA will do a little PR parade saying they want to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee but can’t find a taker and then sell to Hansen and the Seattle group for $750 million with the ability to move them wherever they please.

    Seattle StarBucks.

    • fm31970 - May 14, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      That’s always a possibility, and I can’t blame the NBA for coming up with this “fall back” idea. If there’s not enough support for a new arena, they should be allowed to move to a place where the support (and money) exists.

      I really think Herb Kohl is going to be the reason a new area does get built, though. Has a former owner EVER offered to contribute 20% of the cost of a new arena? In any sport?? That’s unheard of, and darn close to free money, too.

      • bougin89 - May 14, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        I do have hope a new arena gets built. With the condition of sale that the NBA buy it back in 2017 if no arena is built basically the Bucks were sold for $450 million with a 3 year opt out clause in which the new ownership group nets a $25 million profit.

        That being said I think they are putting an honest foot forward to get a new arena built.

    • doughlow805 - May 15, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      This clause basically guarantees the building of a new arena in Milwaukee. How many people think Lasry and Edens are going to be ready to give up NBA team ownership after 3 seasons of ownership? With 200M in the bag already, they are 2/5 of the way there already at worst (400M would honestly be enough for a privately funded arena). We’re talking about 2 billionaires here. Lasry, Edens, Marquette U, the Milwaukee Admirals, Herb Kohl, and other private investors wanting naming writes or other advertising rights will take care of it themselves if the city/state doesn’t want to be part of it. Lasry, Edens, and Kohl are saying that they need help funding the arena, but they’d obviously rather spend money that’s not coming directly from their own pockets, so they are trying that route first.

      The city/state should be jumping on the opportunity to build a new arena and develop the downtown area and I’m going to guess that public funding is approved eventually. These sorts of projects are always met with opposition at first because there are no details this early in the planning. Once the plan is laid out for the arena, the old BC, and surrounding area development, in addition to how govt portion of the new arena revenue will be allocated, people will jump on board.

      • bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 12:36 PM

        Simply put, I 100% agree with your sentiment. I do think an arena will be built. I was just speaking hypothetically if its 2017 and one isn’t built.

  2. duhwighthoward - May 14, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    A new arena will cost $500 million to build? I find that hard to believe. The Forum only cost $16 million to build. These guys need to find a new contractor.

    • bougin89 - May 14, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Rumor is their importer/exporter Art Vandelay can’t get their building material cost low enough.

      • duhwighthoward - May 14, 2014 at 6:35 PM

        Ha! That was great!

    • asimonetti88 - May 14, 2014 at 7:54 PM

      the Forum was also built in the 1960s

      • bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        That was his joke…

  3. earpaniac - May 14, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    I live near Mil, and I’d be shocked if a new arena gets built. People are still upset over the raw deal that was Miller Park, and hate to say it, but nobody cares about the Bucks. The only time they are relevant is if they are really good. And even then it’s about 1/2 that of the Brewers.

    • bougin89 - May 14, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      NBA teams don’t have as many “diehard” fans as teams in the NFL or MLB. The smaller market teams get hit harder by this when they go through a “dry spell”. Unfortunately for the Bucks we’ve only had small glimmers of light for about the last 10 years.

      If they put together a competitive team they will sell tickets, just like they have always done when they have been decent. It’s just been a while since they’ve been decent…

    • fm31970 - May 14, 2014 at 10:47 PM

      This is a little different, though. I don’t recall Bud/Wendy Selig offering to put up 20% of Miller Park’s cost, and while I agree the Bucks aren’t nearly as popular as the Brewers, the new arena will be used for much more than just Bucks games, and can be used year ’round.

      • bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        This!

  4. kwame410 - May 15, 2014 at 12:44 PM

    Move Milwaukee to Seattle and then move h-town to the eastern confrance to balance out the confrances again. And toughen up the east

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