Longtime Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl announced Wednesday that he has reached an agreement to sell the team to hedge-fund billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for about $550 million. The deal is subject to approval by the NBA and its board of governors.
In January, Forbes valued the Bucks at $405 million, last among the league's 30 franchises.
Kohl, a longtime U.S. senator who bought the team for $18 million in 1985, made keeping it in Milwaukee a condition of the sale. It's also believed Kohl, while relinquishing majority control, will retain a significant percentage of the team.
The Bucks have fallen way short of expectations. After harboring hopes of making a playoff push, they will finish the season with the worst record in the NBA. Wednesday's announcement will bring an upbeat conclusion to Kohl's search for buyers who wouldn't try to move the team after his nearly 30 years of ownership and deep ties to the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he was pleased the team will stay in the state and that he will work with the new ownership to see how he can help the team "flourish in the state.''
"I think it's a big deal,'' he told reporters when asked about the sale.
Lasry is chairman and chief executive officer of Avenue Capital Group. Edens is co-founder and a chairman of the board at Fortress Investment Group. Both are based in New York.
Among the challenges for Edens and Lasry, assuming their purchase is ratified by the league, will be erecting a new building to replace the outdated Bradley Center.
On a visit there in September, months before he succeeded David Stern, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver said "an obvious issue we all have to deal with is we need a new arena in Milwaukee."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.