MILWAUKEE — Bucks owner Herb Kohl has reached a deal to sell the franchise to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million.
Kohl announced the deal Wednesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center hours before the team was to play its final game of a dismal season. The deal is subject to approval by the NBA and its Board of Governors.
Kohl is a former U.S. senator who has owned the team since 1985. Efforts to find new investors ramped up this year, and made it a priority to find owners or investors who will keep the franchise in Milwaukee.
It appears the Bucks won’t be going anywhere after Lasry and Edens committed another $100 million to help build a new arena. Kohl also announced he would also donate $100 million to help fund a new arena.
“We have a big vision for the Bucks,” Edens said. “Milwaukee fans deserve a winning team.”
Kohl has spoken for years about the need to upgrade or replace the Bradley Center, the team’s downtown home which opened in 1988.
“We should be shouting from the rooftops because this is a game-changer for this entire debate,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Edens said he hopes to get a plan for a new arena in a year, and have it built in a couple years. He said he thought about $400 million could be a benchmark for building the facility.
With the worst record in the NBA, Milwaukee is in position for a high pick in what will be a talent-rich draft.
The Bucks were sold to Kohl for $18 million in 1985. Kohl, 79, is a Milwaukee native whose family owned a chain of department stores.
Kohl said the subject of the sale would come up at an NBA meeting this week in New York. In a statement, league commissioner Adam Silver praised Kohl for the “historic and unprecedented” $100 million gift to the city to secure the future of the franchise.