It has been rumored for weeks, but Marc Stein of ESPN reports it will become official today — longtime owner Herb Kohl will sell the Milwaukee Bucks to a group committed to keeping them in Milwaukee.
Herb Kohl purchased the Bucks in 1985 for $18 million. Just remember that next time an owner talks about their annual losses with their team (franchise valuation is not part of that calculation).
This looks like a big win for Bucks fans, at least at first glance.
That sale price is 27 percent more than the $405 million that Forbes estimated the Bucks to be worth. The sale will need to be approved by the league’s owners after the buyers go through a thorough background check. However the sales are almost always approved.
Kohl had been looking for new owners for some time but refused to talk to people such as Chris Hansen and his Seattle group because he only wanted an owner that would keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, are hedge-fund billionaires based out of New York who Forbes estimates at having a combined net worth around $3 billion. It is unclear yet if there were be some minority owners joining the group based out of Milwaukee (or even somewhere in the Midwest), to ease concerns about moving the team.
To keep the team in Milwaukee will require a new arena — Commissioner Adam Silver has said as much, the current arena lacks many luxury boxes — and how that gets done will be the big question. Lasry and Edens will have to pony up some cash, Kohl may as well, but they also likely will ask for public money and that would be a much more difficult get.
It is not clear yet what happens if a new arena cannot get built, and on what timeline all that would happen.
Also not clear is what that means for the current front office and coaching staff. Getting the sale approved likely will not impact this draft — where the Bucks have the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick following their terrible season — or maybe even next season. But new owners inevitably bring changes.
They buy a team with a potentially good core of young players — Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Larry Sanders, plus this year’s draft pick — that could develop into an interesting team in a few years with the right management and coach. And if they start to win they will sell out any new building.