SBD/December 17, 2013/Franchises

Kohl Seeks To Bring In Additional Investors For Bucks With Eye On Stability, New Arena

Kohl wants any new investors to be committed to Milwaukee long term
Bucks Owner Herb Kohl yesterday said that he is "seeking additional ownership partners who are strongly committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee for the long term," and added that he has retained Allen & Co. Managing Dir Steve Greenberg to "advise him on the search," according to Charles Gardner of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Kohl: "We want to have as broad an interest as there is. But there are these conditions. Anybody who is brought into ownership, if and when it happens, has to be committed fully to keeping the team here." He said that no negotiations "are underway with any parties at this time and he is just beginning the process." Kohl: "I'm a single individual and I've had the team now for almost 29 years. And I'm not going to live forever. I believe that adding to ownership provides more strength, more stability, more certainty." Kohl, who has owned the team since March '85, said that he "could not say whether the search for investors might lead to him giving up majority ownership of the team," and added that he "doesn't have a projected number of partners in mind." He said that the team's future "without doubt is tied to having a new arena to play in and any new investors must be committed to that." A source said that Kohl's primary goal is "not just to bring in new ownership partners, but perhaps people with the financial means to contribute financing for a new arena" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/17). Kohl said that there "was no urgent need at this point to add the investors, but said it made sense for the long-term future of the team." Kohl: "I want to be as clear as I can be -- this team is going to stay in Milwaukee. I'm just making sure it stays strong. I'm not going anywhere" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/16).

HALTING RELOCATION RUMORS: The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL's Gardner notes Kohl "knows other cities would line up for the Bucks if a facility is not built." The city of Seattle "made a strong bid" to lure away the Kings last year before an agreement was reached to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento. Kohl: "If we want to keep it here, we have to do good work to keep it here. We will be successful. And I think adding additional investors of the right kind adds strength and ability to that equation." Meanwhile, Kohl has "forged a personal relationship" with NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who will succeed Stern next year. Kohl said of Stern and Silver, "They want to see us succeed. When Adam Silver was in town this summer, he said it on record. 'I want to see Milwaukee succeed. I think Milwaukee can succeed. I'm a friend of Milwaukee'" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/17). Stern said of Kohl's announcement, "With this announcement, Sen. Kohl continues his mission: to assure continuity of Bucks ownership by broadening its ownership base, and assuring that the fans of Wisconsin will enjoy NBA basketball and other events in a new state-of-the-art facility" (AP, 12/16).

A GOOD MOVE FOR THE CITY: In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes, "As regressive and stagnant as things have been for far too long with the Bucks, credit Kohl for the effort to keep his legacy of an NBA franchise, which never would have been possible had he not intervened almost 30 years ago, alive in a city that deserves its place at an exclusive 30-seat table." By allowing the "right kind of outside investors into what has been a stale, closed society, Kohl is being proactive and progressive in the nick of time." Hunt: "Should this have happened sooner? Of course. But it is a very good thing that it is happening now, before it is really too late. ... Ask me if the Bucks will still be around in five or six years and I'd say yes because Kohl, if he gets the right kind of support, is determined to build an arena with a lot of his own money as a gift to his hometown" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 12/17).
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