NBA Approves Sale of the Bucks

But a big decision looms by 2017

May. 15, 2014
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It's official: Private equity investors Marc Lasry and Wes Edens can purchase the Milwaukee Bucks. As was widely expected, the NBA board of governors approved the sale today. Herb Kohl is selling the team for a tidy $550 million. He purchased the team for $18 million in 1985.

The new Bucks owners will likely preside over an early victory—the team is poised for a top draft pick during the league's draft lottery on Tuesday, May 20, thanks to their dreadful 15-67 record this season—but challenges loom. As part of the sales contract, the NBA reserves the right to buy back the Bucks for $575 if the new owners cannot finalize an arena agreement for the team by 2017. If that happens, there is no guarantee the team would stay in Milwaukee.

Already opposition is lining up against the new arena, much of it from Milwaukee suburbs, but the new owners are doing their part to cast the new arena as inevitable. As part of the sales announcement, Kohl pledged $100 million to the arena, a figure the new owners will match. That puts the group a little less than halfway toward funding an arena that's expected to cost at least $400 or $500 million, so buckle up: There are still more bruising debates about the fate of the team to come.


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