Herb Kohl will officially give up ownership of the Bucks after nearly 29 years.
According to a report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to billionaire hedge fund owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry is expected to be finalized Thursday.
The two owners, who are purchasing the team for $550 million, were subject to “extra thorough vetting” by the league as a result of the Donald Sterling scandal, according to the report. Once it was confirmed that Edens and Lasry are not, in fact, outspoken, delusional racists, the transaction was approved.
Edens and Lasry have already pledged $100 million toward construction of a new arena, matching the donation of departing owner Herb Kohl, who purchased the team in 1985. The new owners take control less than two months before the 2014 NBA Draft, for which the Bucks hold a top-four pick. Where, exactly, that pick falls will be determined during Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery.
Despite a young roster that will likely add a potential All-Star-caliber player through the draft, convincing the city of Milwaukee to provide public funding for a new arena won’t be an easy task.
Per the ESPN.com report:
Edens and Lasry are hoping to forge a public-private funding deal to replace the aging Bradley Center similar to the agreement just finalized in Sacramento for the Kings. In that deal, the Kings new $477 million arena is getting $254 million from the team and $223 from government funding. However, there are already opposition groups in Wisconsin lining up against public funding for the Bucks.
In a unique part of the sales contract, the NBA has the right to buy the Bucks back from Edens and Lasry for $575 million if a new arena isn’t finalized by 2017, when the Bucks’ current lease is up. This was a provision installed by Kohl to ensure the new owners would not have the option to move the team if arena funding doesn’t come through.
The Bucks front office, led by general manager John Hammond, and coach Larry Drew have been going through standard preparation ahead of the June 26 draft. Edens and Lasry have given no indication yet of their plans, though it is common for new owners to make management changes.