Bucks ownership group likely to add local investors

Jonathan Daniel

The Bucks were sold to a pair of men from New York, but it looks like some local investors will start coming into the fold soon.

Though there was a press conference yesterday to announce that Herb Kohl had sold the Bucks to the New York-based duo of Marc Lasry and Wes Edens for appoximately $550 million, there is still a very strong chance that local investors (and big names in Wisconsin) could buy a minority stake in the team, reports Rick Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal.

With the announcement of the sale, many expected that to be the end of ownership transaction. However, Steve Greenberg of Allen Co., who represented Kohl during this period, suggests that a few big names might attach themselves to this ownership group.

"I would be very, very surprised if there are not local people who come in with them as partners," said Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., New York City, who represents Kohl in the transaction. "They will be names you will recognize.

Among the names most discussed have been retired-Bucks-player-turned-fast-food-magnate Junior Bridgeman, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Milwaukee Brewers lead owner Mark Attanasio. Others on the list include Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold, commercial real estate developer and consultant Jon Hammes and money management/commercial real estate executive Ted Kellner.

Kirchen also added that Lasry and Edens discussed with Kohl about the possibility of adding on some of the local investors and bigger names before the press conference yesterday. This move would bear resemblance to the ownership conglomerate of the Brewers, with one principal owner (in the Bucks case, two) and a select group of minority stake holders with more local ties to complement the bigger business portion.

Though it's unclear at the moment if or how much of a stake local investors would hitch themselves to, having those ties could come in handy with the ongoing search in funding for a new arena. Attanasio has already said that he would be willing to help out financially with the new arena, and who's to say that others wouldn't also contribute if the soon-to-be owners teamed up with some local investors. At the very least, you would think the public would be a little more on board with some sort of tax (if, but likely when it gets to that point) if some recognizable names and faces were part of the movement.

At least $200 million has already been pledged by Lasry, Edens, and Kohl towards the new arena, but acquiring the remaining funds is still going to be a challenge. By all accounts though, Lasry and Edens seem confident that this will get done.

"They're 110 percent believers in the importance of an ownership group that's fully integrated with the local community."

Of course, none of this can happen until the league approves of the sale, but it appears it will and that the ownership group is about to gain some popular new members. Awesome.

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