Tag: Herb Kohl

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


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.

The Bucks borrowed $55 million from the NBA… last year

Terry Stotts Press Conference

The Milwaukee Bucks are a pretty good example of the market struggles facing smaller-market owners in the NBA. It’s not like owner Herb Kohl hasn’t hired good people. John Hammond and Scott Skiles are both very good at their respective positions. And it’s not like Kohl hasn’t spent money on players. From Michael Redd to John Salmons to Drew Gooden to Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have kept the purse strings loose to try and build a winner. But the market simply hasn’t been great without the ability to convince fans they can compete for a championship (with good reason). And as a result, the Bucks have lost quite a bit of money. And it would appear the Bucks have tapped the league for quite a bit of help to cover themselves for the red line present and future.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, borrowed at least $55 million last year from the NBA’s credit facility, according to his Senate financial disclosure form.

Disclosure rules in the Senate do not require senators to disclose the exact amount of their investments, assets and liabilities. But the records indicate that Kohl borrowed at least $55 million in three separate loans in behalf of the Bucks.

The records also indicate that Kohl used some of the proceeds for investments by two of his trusts. That is allowable under NBA rules for those borrowing from the $2 billion credit facility.

via Kohl borrowed from NBA – JSOnline.

The Journal notes that taking the loan doesn’t necessarily mean that the team lost money. But considering Kohl has openly said the Bucks have lost money and their status in Forbes’ franchise-value list, it’s a pretty good bet. That’s quite a bit of cash for one franchise, and with Kohl deciding not to run for re-election in 2012, you have to wonder if eventually Kohl won’t be the one writing checks, or applying for loans on behalf of the Bucks.

It’s probable that Kohl would look to sell the team to a local ownership group to keep the team in Milwaukee, but considering that kind of red ink on the books, it might be difficult. Meanwhile, expect ownership to use this kind of information to squeeze the players, using it as evidence of their enormous losses over the past several years while the players continue to respond in saying that revenue sharing and other venues will solve the problem and no one really having a conversation about it.

It’s hard to pinpoint anything Kohl’s done to put himself in this situation. The Bucks have made their fair share of poor moves, player-wise, management-wise, coaching-wise over the past few years, but they’ve been respectable. Everyone points to the Knicks’ failures to win a title as evidence the system doesn’t favor big market teams, but a look at the larger markets’ black ink compared to cases like this shows there’s enough there to support the idea of the system being broken.

Only question is how long it will take to fix it.

(HT: IamaGM.com)

Owner’s commitment to Bucks good for Hammond, Skiles

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Hornets
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Herb Kohl is making changes.

The United States Senator said he has decided not to seek re-election.

But he remains committed to owning the Bucks, he told the Journal-Sentinel, and he is not looking for big changes there.

“One thing, our coach (Scott Skiles) is as competitive as they come and so is our general manager (John Hammond),” Kohl said. “We hope the year to come is going to be a lot better.”

The Bucks on the court took a step back this season, but that was largely due to injuries – no team lost more man games total or more games to key rotation players than the Bucks. Even when Andrew Bogut played, he was not right on offense because of his elbow.

But that is not the biggest long-term issue for Milwaukee.

Kohl also spoke briefly about the Bradley Center, saying he wanted to find “a way to build a modern complex.” “And in generations to come, the Bucks will continue to be a part of the landscape of Milwaukee,” Kohl said. Concerns about the aging Bradley Center are intertwined with the Bucks’ future in Milwaukee.

The new collective bargaining agreement could really benefit teams like Milwaukee in smaller markets, as could more revenue sharing. But at some point in the not to distant future, the stadium situation will need to be addressed.

But for now, the owner is committed to the team and Milwaukee. And that’s a good thing.