After months of speculation, Milwaukee Bucks franchise owner Herb Kohl is selling the team to two New York-based hedge-fund billionaires, but the team will stay in the city.
Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry will buy the team for $550 million, pending approval by the NBA Board of Governors. As of January 2014, the Bucks were valued at $405 million - the lowest in the league, according to a Forbes analysis on NBA teams.
As part of the purchase, the new owners "have committed to contribute at least an additional $100 million towards the development of a new arena in the city," according to a Bucks press release.
"We believe a new arena and the development of the surrounding downtown area will immensely benefit the game-day atmosphere as well as the city of Milwaukee," Edens and Lasry said in the release.
Kohl, a former U.S. Senator, also will contribute $100 million toward a new arena.
For months, the fate of the Bucks' current home, the BMO Harris Bradley Center, has been unclear. The NBA has said the arena isn't up to league standards and without a new arena the team's viability in Milwaukee is uncertain. But questions remained over how to fund a new arena, which could cost as much as $500 million, according to an article in Milwaukee Magazine.
Kohl, who has owned the Bucks for almost three decades, announced back in December that he was seeking additional owners to help the franchise that's been struggling both financially and on the court. With a current record of 15-66, the Bucks will finish their regular season with the worst record in the NBA, regardless of the outcome of tonight's game against Atlanta.
But Edens and Lasry say they have big plans for the team.
"We are lifelong basketball fans who are committed to the success of the Bucks and the identity of the team as a part of the city of Milwaukee," they said in the release. "It is our vision for this franchise to be admired both locally and nationally for its success on the court, the quality of its organization and the loyalty of its fan base....We are as passionate and energized as Bucks fans are about bringing home an NBA championship to Milwaukee."