SBD/April 22, 2014/Franchises

Sources: NBA Could Buy Bucks From Prospective Owners If No Arena Deal By '17

Public funds could possibly be used for financing a new Milwaukee arena
The NBA "has the right to buy back" the Bucks from prospective Owners Wesley Edens and Mark Lasry if a "deal to a bring a new arena to the city is not in place" by November '17, according to sources cited by Windhorst & Stein of ESPN.com. The $550M sale of the team by Owner Herb Kohl announced last week "includes a provision that allows the league to buy back the team" for $575M if construction on a new building in Milwaukee is "not underway by the deadline." Although one source yesterday said that the league would "likely only take that step if it didn't see 'significant progress' toward a new arena in Milwaukee by then, this provision ensures that the NBA would control the fate of the franchise from that point as opposed to Edens and Lasry." The inclusion of this clause in the sale agreement is an "unspoken admission that neither the league nor the new owners are convinced that construction on a modern building in Milwaukee will be underway in the space of three-plus years" (ESPN.com, 4/21).

FUNDING COULD BE TOUGH TO FIND: In Milwaukee, Rich Kirchen writes despite the $100M pledges from Kohl and the prospective owners for a new arena, "scoring the balance of funding will be far from a slam dunk." The donations leave between $200-300M to be "raised through additional private funding sources and possibly public sources." Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Tim Sheehy thinks that the project will "require public financing." That could "include government sources that don’t directly come from taxpayer pockets such as a tax incremental financing district." But a sales tax "remains on the table as a possibility." Allen & Co. Managing Dir Steve Greenberg, whose firm was retained by Kohl to bring in new team investors, said that Edens and Lasry "may not lobby for public funding, but they will work on the planning, site and design for the new arena" (MILWAUKEE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/18 issue).
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