Herb Kohl Rumors
Negotiations are under way among the Milwaukee Bucks, city and state officials on how to pay for a $500 million new arena or face franchise relocation. The Bucks’ current owners, Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, have committed $150 million, and the former owner, Herb Kohl, has committed $100 million. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a presidential hopeful, has proposed borrowing $220 million, but his party’s legislature is fighting him on it and wants the state’s contribution to be closer to $150 million.
As for the arena, Lasry acknowledges its shortcomings. The Bucks’ home locker room is outclassed by that of many major college programs, and their practice facility is an annexed building of a Catholic archdiocese. Lasry and Edens have pledged $100 million to build a new arena, as has former owner Herb Kohl. They are still searching for ways to fund the rest, while the location has been narrowed down to three sites. Lasry says they hope to settle on one in the next month or so, after which things should begin to move quickly. “It is a process, and it’s challenging,” Lasry said. “We are trying to get the best site where we can do the best for the city. For as many people who want you to do something somewhere, there are as many people who don’t want you to do something somewhere.”
So, it wasn’t surprising that when Kohl recently sold his NBA franchise, he didn’t forget about the people who worked under him. You may have read where Kohl gave gifts of $500 to employees at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where the Bucks played their home games. What you haven’t read, though, is that Kohl’s generosity extended much further. He also bestowed significant financial gifts to others in the organization, from secretaries to sales personnel to basketball operations officials. The amount Kohl gave those employees varied and was based on different criterion, not the least of which was longevity with the organization. Some Bucks employees received $40,000 while others received nearly $100,000. And there were even some individuals who were given checks that one person close to the situation described as “life changing.”
There was widespread chatter among Bucks officials and even some NBA executives that Kohl was livid with Hammond and, if he had maintained ownership of the team, would have fired him after the season. But Hammond, the NBA’s Executive of the Year in 2009-2010, is still overseeing the basketball operations and Drew is heavily involved in draft preparations. Thursday, during an informal gathering with a group of media, Lasry and Edens expressed their support for Hammond, Drew and Morway. “I think, on the basketball side right now, John, David and Larry, at least from all the dealings we’ve had, they have been doing a great job,” Lasry said.
The Milwaukee Bucks are officially under new ownership, as the NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the team Thursday from Herb Kohl to Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. Lasry and Edens, New York-based hedge fund billionaires, agreed to purchase the franchise from Kohl for $550 million on April 16. It took nearly a month for the deal to become official, but the Bucks now are no longer under the control of Kohl for the first time in 29 years.