The Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly been sold, and for now it appears the team is staying put.
On the condition the team remains in Milwaukee, owner Herb Kohl reached an agreement with hedge fund executives Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for $550 million, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
An official announcement from the team is expected later Wednesday. The sale is still subject to approval by the other 29 owners in the league.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Kohl had been shopping the team with the NBA’s help. Kohl had reportedly spoken with as many as four suitors for the last-place club, and he preferred to sell to local investors.
A major issue for the Bucks for the past several years has been their lack of a state-of-the-art arena, which has prompted speculation that they could leave Milwaukee. The city will reportedly get $200 million to help fund a new arena under the impending ownership group.
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There were rumors that an owner would purchase the Bucks and re-locate to another market, similar to what happened in Seattle in 2008. The Seattle Supersonics relocated to Oklahoma City after owner Clay Bennett failed to get public funds for a new arena. It was a controversial move after allegations surfaced that the ownership group had no intention of keeping the club in the Seattle area.
Seattle is still clamoring for a new team. The No. 14 media market in the country still owns the nickname and logo for the Supersonics. In 2013, the Sacramento Kings nearly relocated to Seattle. There had been speculation that the Bucks could be a team that might move to Seattle.
Kohl, a former U.S. senator who was born and raised in Milwaukee, originally purchased the Bucks back in 1985 to make sure it remained in Wisconsin.
The Bucks currently play in the Bradley Center, which opened in 1988, but the team has tried for years to secure funding for a new arena in order to meet the NBA’s requirements to modernize every facility in the league by 2017.
Posting the worst record in the league at 15-66 with one game to left in the regular season, the Bucks will miss the playoffs for the third time in four years and have only made two trips to the postseason since 2006.
Milwaukee is expected to land one of the top selections in June’s NBA Draft with such prospects as Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins and center Joel Embiid along with Kentucky’s Julius Randle seen as players capable of turning the team around in the near-future.
Lasry has an estimated networth of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes, and started Avenue Capital Group in 1995 with an initial $10 million investment. Today, the firm manages $12 billion in assets.
Edens is the co-Chairman of the Board of Directors at Fortress Investment Group, a global hedge fund that manages roughly $61 billion in assets, according to the company’s official Web site.