Marc Lasry Rumors
The Bucks would like the funding package in place this summer and a shovel in the ground in September or October. Ownership has added local minority partners, and earlier this year the Bucks staff moved into new offices at Schlitz Park. It is a modern, wide-open office space to accommodate additional hires, adding new jobs mostly in ticket sales but also to marketing and communications departments. They are moving forward under the idea that a new arena will be built.
That arena deal is not yet in place, even though Bucks owners have promised $150 million and Kohl pledged $100 million, and they’re counting on state, city and county government to contribute the remaining half for a $500 million downtown arena. But getting public funding for pro sports buildings is a drawn-out political process, difficult to navigate and not always popular. Team executives are more than hopeful a new arena will be built, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently said he is confident an arena deal will be reached. Last week, the Bucks released an artist’s renderings of all-purpose arena in a new sports and entertainment district. No site has been chosen for the arena, but there is available land north of the Bradley Center. It’s a logical location.
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.
“If the state comes in at $150 million, the deal is dead, and the Bucks will move,” city alderman Bob Bauman told Milwaukee Magazine this week. The arena would be in his district. “The gap is too big.” Meanwhile, a poll released this week by Marquette University Law School was bleak for the Bucks. Nearly 80 percent of the respondents didn’t favor public funding for the arena even though the current plan includes no new taxes. In Milwaukee itself, 67 percent of those polled were against giving the Bucks public money. As for Walker, who is a strong supporter of the arena construction plan, his approval ratings have dropped over the past several months. As he’s about to run for president, he now has a 41 percent approval rating in his home state.
Owners of the Milwaukee Bucks are releasing their plan for a new $500 million arena that they say would anchor a much larger entertainment district in downtown Milwaukee. The Bucks owners on Wednesday talked about their plans for 30 acres of largely vacant land adjacent to the existing arena, the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which opened in 1988. The proposed plan by owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan would demolish the current arena to make room.
While Milwaukee Bucks executives and their new design team scramble to get cost estimates for a new downtown arena to city, county and state officials, the franchise is signaling that its owners will not go beyond their $250 million commitment for the project. A source familiar with the team’s planning said principal owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry “do not intend to exceed” the amount they promised when they purchased the team from former Sen. Herb Kohl.
The number is further exacerbated by the current uncertainty about an arena site. The Bucks wanted to use a block of land in downtown Milwaukee that currently houses the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper’s staff. But the team is also looking at alternative sites as talks to buy the Journal buildings have stalled. “We don’t know where the arena’s going to be. And we don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” Vos said. “It’s very hard for me to sell a plan if I don’t know the cost and I don’t know the location.”
“From my perspective, I’ve always wanted to do everything to keep the team in Milwaukee,” Vos said in a phone interview Friday. “But you have to engage the people who never have, never want or never will go to a Bucks game. You have to come up with a plan other than ‘wouldn’t it be great for the Bucks to stay here?’ ” Working with the Bucks and the state, Vos commissioned a study last fall to take a deeper dive into exactly how much the team’s presence in the state generated each year. During the joint discussions, according to a source with knowledge of the talks, the idea of using projected increased revenues from the jock tax came up, not just as a means of financing the arena, but for generating revenues after the bonds were repaid.
The latest twist — a proposed $220 million public financing plan via bonds, promoted late last month by Gov. Scott Walker, that would help the team build the $450 million to $500 million arena that the league has repeatedly said is necessary to keep the team in Milwaukee — is currently on the rocky shoals of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Last week, the Speaker of the Assembly, Rep. Robin Vos, said there was “zero chance” of the proposal passing the Assembly unless the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County were prepared to also make financial commitments toward building the arena.
No new taxes, no hole in the state budget, and no loss of Wisconsin’s professional basketball team — or the revenue they provide. Those were the big talking points for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday morning, as Walker outlined a plan to use the growth in NBA player tax revenues to finance $220 million in bonding for a new multi-purpose arena in downtown Milwaukee. In a short prepared presentation at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Walker noted that NBA players currently pay $6.52 million annually in state income taxes, and that the projected growth in player salaries (and thus tax collections) could finance the full $220 million in revenue bonds included in his new state budget. Central to that projected growth is the NBA’s new nine-year, $24 billion TV pact starting in 2016, a deal that roughly triples the current $900 million annual TV deal split among franchises.
Near the top of Forbes’s rankings are former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers. Before purchasing the Donald Sterling-defamed Clippers, he ran the computer software empire during the peak of Microsoft’s development of touch-screen interfaces. Conveniently, the league source describes a marriage between Ballmer’s former business and Lasry’s alleged dirty hobby as the key to to an endless revenue stream that NBA owners anxiously seek to tap into. “In addition to all of the regular bets we already have, you’ll be able to sit at an NBA game or on your couch and bet on jump shots by pressing a button on the iPad or your cellphone or any of the gadgets,” explained the league source. “You’ll do this as much as you want throughout the game.”
“The NBA owners know it’s a lot more than the TV contract that brought the values up,” an NBA team source tells Breitbart Sports, “It’s the sports betting.” The source’s comment follows a Forbes report recapping fiscal year 2014. According to the report, the NBA underwent a value surge unmatched by any other professional sport. The Milwaukee Bucks, peculiarly purchased in part by Marc Lasry in April of 2014 for an estimated six times more than their annual revenue, sit at the bottom of the Forbes 30-team list.
A new arena is expected to cost between $400 million and $500 million. With at least $250 million up front from the Bucks, that means general fund-backed bonding of $150 million or more would be needed unless more private financing is found.
Gov. Scott Walker is expected to announce Tuesday morning that he plans to put into the state budget a financing plan that includes bonding to help build a multipurpose arena in downtown Milwaukee. A source familiar with Walker’s plan said the governor’s plan relies on the diversion of income taxes paid by visiting National Basketball Association athletes as well as Milwaukee Bucks players to pay the debt service on the bonding. The plan also could include diverting sales taxes paid for some goods and services at the new arena.
“I think I was a huge fan. I didn’t think it could get worse, and I think it’s multiples of that. I’m always screaming. “To me it has nothing to do with the referees. You’re watching, so when we make a basket, you’re extremely excited. When we miss a basket, you’re extremely bummed or whatever it is. “It’s a lot more emotional than I thought it would be.”
Marc Lasry admits he has a much different feeling as an owner than in those days when he was merely a fan. The Milwaukee Bucks co-owner hasn’t done a Mark Cuban explosion on any referee yet, but he can relate to the impulse and emotional investment. “I didn’t realize how much more passionate you became as an owner,” Lasry said Tuesday. “You’re very focused.
The Bucks have delayed an announcement on the site and plans for a new downtown arena, but Lasry believes it will be worth the wait. “The problem is every time I get asked how much longer, it seems it should be the next 30 to 60 days,” Lasry said of an announcement. “But it seems I’ve been saying that literally for the last three to four months. “It is just taking longer. But I do believe now it’s the next 30 to 60 days.” Lasry said he thinks the final plan will be something fans can get excited about. Asked if it would have a Destination Bucks feel, he said, “That’s what we’re trying to do.”
With the tenets of “Moneyball” now employed in the front offices of every major sport, perhaps it was inevitable that professional teams would turn to emotion metrics and neuroscience tools to try to gain an edge in evaluating players. “We spend quite a bit of time evaluating the players as basketball players and analytically,” said David Morway, Milwaukee’s assistant general manager, who works for the owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. “But the difficult piece of the puzzle is the psychological side of it, and not only psychological, character and personality issues, but also team chemistry issues.”
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.”
Edens’ first call was to Lasry, a longtime friend. Lasry was interested but, Edens says, he was the one aggressively pushing the deal. “I gave Marc a hard time about stepping up,” Edens said. “We had one chance to buy a team that was close to New York, that was a great franchise in a great city.” To Edens and Lasry, one thing was made clear: If you want the team, you have to keep it in Milwaukee. Kohl, the former U.S. senator who had owned the team since 1985, had no interest in selling to a group that would move the franchise. “If he wanted to sell it to somebody who would have moved the team,” Edens said, “I think he could have gotten more for it. He was very clear from the first minute of the first meeting that it was important [for the Bucks to stay put].”
Lasry is confident the Bucks will secure a deal, if only because the buyback clause and the looming Seattle threat have everyone backed into a corner. “The reason it’s gonna get done is that no one has a choice,” he says. He and Edens are based in New York, and they will not entertain the idea of moving the Bucks to a West Coast market as long as they own the team. “I have no interest in being far away,” Lasry says. “The fun of owning the team is being part of the community. You can’t do that if you’re four or five hours away.”
In a dramatic expansion of their ownership group, the Milwaukee Bucks will announce Friday that five prominent African-American business leaders and philanthropists, as well as two well-known Milwaukee business executives, have joined the franchise. Their addition gives Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and new investor Jamie Dinan, whose ownership stake had not been widely known, enhanced credibility as they continue to work not only on rebuilding the franchise but also on setting the stage for what is expected to be a major downtown economic redevelopment project. While specifics of what the three have in mind beyond building a new arena have yet to be disclosed, the Bucks made a point in their announcement to say that members of Partners for Community Impact, or PCI, had previously been involved in urban economic development and renewal projects.
Marc Lasry, the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks with partner Wes Edens, said Thursday at a business of sports summit that he hopes the franchise can partner with the city to build a new arena. Lasry, interviewed by Bloomberg Television at its Sports Business Summit, expressed optimism that such a partnership will happen. “We think over time we’re going to be able to do this,” Lasry said. Lasry also had some interesting things to say about the Bucks. While he is a co-owner with Edens, Lasry said it was Edens who is the managing partner of the team and acts as the team’s governor at NBA owner meetings. “I’m not the person running the team,” Lasry said.
Alexander Lasry appears to have taken a job in the Bucks’ front office, this according to, well…Alexander. The son of Bucks’ co-owner Marc Lasry recently updated his LinkedIn profile and added the title of Vice President of Strategy and Operations to his list of work experience. The job just started this month, according to his account. It is unclear at the moment would the position’s duties entail, though Alexander’s degree in Business from New York University and Penn may suggest that this role may be more business-oriented than anything else. Marc Lasry had made no secret of his desire for his son to join the Bucks in some capacity, and it looks like he’s convinced his son to become part of the team sooner than expected.