Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl has sold the team to investors Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for approximately $550 million.
The sale still needs approval from the NBA Board of Governors.
In addition to the purchase agreement, Kohl has pledged a $100 million gift for the development of a new arena for the team. The new owners will keep the franchise in Milwaukee and will also contribute at least an additional $100 million toward the arena project.
"My priority has always been and will continue to be keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee," said Kohl in a statement Wednesday. "This announcement reinforces that Milwaukee is and will continue to be the home of the Bucks. Wes and Marc agree, and they share my commitment to the long-term success of this franchise in Milwaukee."
Lasry is the CEO and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group and Edens is the co- founder of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Both have headquarters in New York, but both are committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee.
"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," the two new owners said in a statement. "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. Having each built competitive teams in the business world, we will apply that same intensity and determination as owners of the Milwaukee Bucks. We are as passionate and energized as Bucks fans are about bringing home an NBA championship to Milwaukee."
Kohl purchased the Bucks in 1985 from Jim Fitzgerald for $18 million. The former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin had detailed sale discussions with a group led by Michael Jordan in 2003, but decided to keep the franchise.
In December, though, Kohl began a search for additional investors.
"Today's announcement signals the start of a new, exciting era for the Milwaukee Bucks," said Kohl. "Now, with a long-term commitment from the new owners and major components of the funding in place for a new arena, we need to come together as a community to develop plans for a new sports and entertainment facility that will host more than 200 events a year, including Bucks games. I am confident we will do this."
The Bucks entered the last day of the regular season with the NBA's worst record at 15-66.