In all the time that Senator Herb Kohl has been looking for a new owner for the Milwaukee Bucks, the concern of fans was that the new owners would look to buy the team then move it.
Marc Lasry and Wes Edens have no such plans — the two New York hedge fund managers who are buying the team for a reported $550 million emphasized at their introductory press conference they are committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee and they planned to spend a lot of time in the city.
“Milwaukee fans deserve a winning team, this is about winning basketball games, winning championships, and being part of the community, and we look forward to all of those,” Edens said at the press conference announcing the sale.
The Bucks have a ways to go on the whole winning thing — they finished with the worst record in the NBA this season. That said they have some good players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Larry Sanders, plus this year’s draft pick, to build around.
Bucks fans want to make sure that on the court success happens in Milwaukee, rather than what happened to Seattle fans getting to watch their team succeed in Oklahoma City. Kohl tried to ease those concerns.
“I’m very optimistic, even more than I can express, about the future of our team here in this city….” Kohl said.
“It has been made abundantly clear to them and they have embraced that this is Milwaukee’s team, and that their participation in the NBA is in Milwaukee. That has been gone over with them and they have advanced that proposition themselves.”
To make that happen is going to take a new arena — Commissioner Adam Silver has said that the Bucks current arena does not meet NBA standards. Both Lasry and Edens talked about being hands on in the process to get that new arena built, one that can host hundreds of events and be a catalyst for other development around it.
If course, that costs money. A new arena these days costs at least around $500 million.
At the press conference Kohl committed $100 million from him to get the building built. Lasry and Edens said they would contribute at least that much.
A couple hundred million is a good start, and Kohl said additional money from many different sources, public and private. It’s the public part that could be hard — Milwaukee residents are still paying a little extra sales tax to pay for the Brewers new stadium, and the deadline for when that would sunset has been pushed back twice to 2020. Residents of the city and state may be hesitant to lend much of a helping hand to billionaires to build a new arena for their team.
What should matter to Bucks fans is that right now everyone said all the right things and is committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee in a new arena.