Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Will Lasry Sell His Bucks Ownership?

"Open" to selling and would make a huge profit, NBA insiders suggest.

By - Dec 28th, 2022 12:13 pm
Fiserv Forum during the 2021 playoffs. Photo by Angeline Terry.

Fiserv Forum during the 2021 playoffs. Photo by Angeline Terry.

NBA insider Marc Stein recently reported that Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry is “open” to selling his stake in the franchise. Stein, considered one of the top NBA reporters, cited growing “whispers” he’s heard from NBA sources to that effect.

Lasry and Wes Edens bought the Bucks from Herb Kohl in 2014 for $550 million, though the true price was $450 million, since Kohl, as part of the sales deal, promised to donate $100 million to a new arena.

And that new arena has helped the value of the Bucks franchise mushroom in value since then. The team is now estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.3 billion, “a five-fold increase in value since the team was purchased in April 2014,” Urban Milwaukee has reported. “This has helped the Bucks team jump from the least valuable franchise to 15th place, ahead of 10 other NBA teams, including those in far bigger metro areas, like Atlanta, Detroit, Denver, Portland and Cleveland.”

But the “real-world price tag” for the Bucks franchise “might be higher,” a Bleacher Report article suggests, “considering the Phoenix Suns were valued at $2.7 billion” by Forbes and sold for far more: $4 billion!

A key factor in the rise in value of the Bucks franchise is the building of the new arena, Fiserv Forum, the story noted. The full cost of its public subsidy was estimated at more than $800 million by Urban Milwaukee, paid for mostly by metro-area taxpayers with some state funding. But it turns out the Bucks are also subsidized by taxpayers in other cities, through league revenue sharing from bigger-market teams.

There’s no question Lasry “could collect a handsome profit” selling his shares of the team, Bleacher Report noted. “Were that to happen, NBA fans may not have seen the last of the 63-year-old. Stein speculated Lasry could look to return to the ownership ranks elsewhere once his departure from Milwaukee was finalized.”

And why not? Every NBA team save the Golden State Warriors enjoys a huge taxpayer subsidy, which is helping increase the value of every pro sports team in the country. Lasry could buy another team and reap another windfall given how quickly franchise values are rising.

If he does sell, we may also see the last of his son, Alex Lasry, who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. Lasry’s career has been tied to his father, a big donor to Democrats who helped Alex get a job in the administration of President Barack Obama. Later Alex Lasry was given a job as a vice president of the Bucks operation, at a salary of $300,000, and was also gifted a stake in the team as part of a $50 million trust set up by his father. There has been speculation among Democrats as to whether Alex will run again for some office in Wisconsin or perhaps take a job back on the East Coast where he has spent most of his life.

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5 thoughts on “Back in the News: Will Lasry Sell His Bucks Ownership?”

  1. says:

    I love the Bucks, but the taxpayer robbery that disguises as NBA/MLB ownership makes me sick. These hedge fund pirates need to go…and take their No-talent offspring with them.

  2. RetiredResident says:

    Well, on the up side, the taxpayers of Milwaukee only have 97 years left til the new parking structure is paid off…Thank you Trolley Tom Barrett.

  3. ringo muldano says:

    …No-talent offspring… it’s a low bar of you can afford to buy it

  4. Mingus says:

    Another billionaire making making money off of a government handout. He could pay back the State and local subsidies and still have a few hundred million dollars as profit.

  5. DAGDAG says:

    Whenever the government…Federal or local…takes a risk and finances a project, it must put in the contract that there is some way to recover the investment when it succeeds. It would mean that the lending (gifting?) agency has some way to open the books and see the profits, and get a piece of the action. People will say that the company (in this case, a stadium or ballpark) takes a risk when building a venue…but so does that taxpayer. The days of saying that giving someone money, or tax incentives, brings jobs and money into the City because of new workers, future taxes, etc., should be redefined. It is still taxpayer money being given away to a “for profit” business that should pay it back over the years. Some will call it corporate welfare. I’d prefer to call it common sense.

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