Jeramey Jannene

NBA Approves Haslam’s Acquisition of Milwaukee Bucks

Cleveland Browns' owner buying Marc Lasry's interest in team.

By - Apr 14th, 2023 03:53 pm
The 2020-2021 championship ring ceremony at Fiserv Forum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The 2020-2021 championship ring ceremony at Fiserv Forum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s official. Jimmy and Dee Haslam are buying Marc Lasry‘s 25% interest in the Milwaukee Bucks.

The NBA Board of Governors, the league’s ownership board, approved the sale. The Haslam’s already are the majority owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and MLS’s Columbus Crew.

The couple will join Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan as majority owners of the Bucks. Jimmy Haslam, 68, is the chairman of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain.

“On behalf of Jamie and the entire ownership group, I want to welcome Dee, Jimmy and the Haslam family to the Bucks,” said Edens. “The Bucks have a special bond with the people of Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin, and we’re looking forward to working closely with Dee and Jimmy to further build upon our team’s success, both on and off the court. Their professional sports experience and profound engagement and desire to positively impact communities will provide important contributions to our franchise’s long-term success. We’re very proud of the impact our ownership group has had over the past nine years and believe that we’re well-positioned for an even brighter future.”

When announced in February, the transaction valued the team at $3.5 billion and Lasry’s share at $875 million. A source confirmed Friday that the sale was reduced to $800 million and a team valuation of $3.2 billion.

“We are equally honored and excited for the opportunity to invest in the Milwaukee Bucks and join the Edens and Dinan families as partners,” said Dee and Jimmy Haslam. “This ownership group has created a championship organization both on and off the court, a standard that is rare in sports, and we highly respect the team they have built. We have tremendous appreciation for the impressive history of basketball in Milwaukee and the passionate and loyal fan base. We appreciate the power of sports and its unique ability to bring people together and make a positive difference in our communities. We are thrilled to join the NBA and look forward to providing the support necessary for the Bucks to continue to achieve sustainable success.”

Lasry, Edens and Dinan purchased the team in 2014 for an effective price of $450 million and secured $250 million in public financing to develop Fiserv Forum. The team won the NBA championship in 2021.

Lasry and Edens, on five-year cycles, alternated leadership (formally “governorship”) of the team. Lasry’s turn at the helm was to run through next season, but Haslam said in March that Edens would start a new five-year term next season.

When considering only sale prices, the deal establishes the Milwaukee Bucks as the second most valuable team in the NBA, following only the Phoenix Suns. A $4 billion agreement was reached in December to sell the Suns to Mat Ishbia, with whom Lasry also explored selling the Bucks. Lasry, two sources familiar with the deal confirm, also discussed selling his interest in the team to Edens.

NBA team values have continued to climb in recent years due to the exponential increase in television rights agreements and the global market for the teams. Bidding for new television rights agreements is underway.

A press release from the Bucks lists Haslam’s acquisition as including the Bucks, operation of Fiserv Forum, the team’s training center (Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center), the team’s G League affiliate (Wisconsin Herd) and the 2K League team (Bucks Gaming).

The release makes no mention of the Haslams acquiring any Lasry’s interest in the surrounding Deer District properties other than the team’s training facility. The approximately 30-acre district includes properties operated outright by the Bucks or those leased to other partners.

Pilot, founded by Haslam’s father, is the fifth-largest privately held company in the country. By the end of 2023, Berkshire Hathaway is to acquire all but 20% of the company, leaving the Haslam family as the only other owner. Haslam’s brother Bill Haslam acquired the Nashville Predators professional hockey team in 2022.

Flying J, under Jimmy Haslam’s leadership, paid $85 million in restitution to customers and a $92 million penalty for a rebate scheme that withheld diesel fuel discounts from customers. It entered into a criminal enforcement agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2014. Customers, according to the U.S. Attorney, were defrauded of more than $56 million.

Lasry and Edens have both been supporters of the Democratic Party. Marc’s son Alex Lasry, who owns a home in Milwaukee and has lived in the city since his father purchased the team, ran for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2022. The younger Lasry, who previously worked at the White House under Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, was also a major player in bringing the Democratic National Convention to Milwaukee. The elder Lasry, who lives in New York City, has five children. Each child has an ownership interest in the Bucks, but only Alex lives in Milwaukee.

Jimmy and Dee Haslam are big-dollar Republican donors. Haslam’s college roommate was future U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

The Browns and the Haslams engendered controversy when they signed quarterback DeShaun Watson to a $230 million contract despite his being sued by more than two dozen massage therapists for sexual harassment and sexual assault. Watson has denied wrongdoing and settled 20 of the claims. The quarterback missed the entire 2021 season while on the Houston Texans and was suspended, as part of a settlement between the NFL and the players’ union, for the first 11 games of the 2022 season and fined $5 million. The Haslams pledged to donate $1 million towards education to increase awareness of sexual misconduct.

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Categories: Real Estate

One thought on “NBA Approves Haslam’s Acquisition of Milwaukee Bucks”

  1. ZeeManMke says:

    The rich get richer on the backs of the people of Milwaukee. The Bucks were worth $450 million in 2014. Now they are worth $3.2 billion. What are the people getting for their $250 million – and no property taxes for life?

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