Kohl Close To Selling Majority Share Of Bucks?

March 20 at 8:02am CDT By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 8:02am: There doesn’t appear to be a buyer set to purchase a majority stake in the Bucks, according to Rich Kirchen of the Milwaukee Business Journal. Kirchen hears from a source whose input is remarkably similar to that of a source who spoke to Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week. Both Kirchen and Walker write that no deal is imminent in spite of a considerable amount of local and national interest in the club. It’s most likely any new investor would purchase a minority share with an option to buy a principal stake when Kohl is ready to step aside, Kirchen observes, though his source wouldn’t rule out the notion that Kohl could give up control of the team soon. A transaction of some kind will probably take place this summer, Kirchen adds.

TUESDAY, 8:28am: Bucks owner Herb Kohl will likely cede control of the franchise in a deal that would bring new ownership aboard, reports Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. It’s not clear exactly who will be taking over the team, but it won’t be anyone who’ll move the Bucks out of Milwaukee, according to Woelfel, who adds that the sale could take place as soon as late April. Kohl recently turned down a pair of groups with interest in moving the team elsewhere, Woelfel notes.

The 79-year-old Kohl had reportedly been looking for investors to buy minority shares of the club, but it now appears as though he’s ready to give up principal ownership, even though he insisted in late 2013 that he “isn’t going anywhere.” There’s a chance the new regime will keep him around in some sort of capacity, perhaps as an ambassador of sorts, Woelfel writes. Kohl has been particularly intent on building a new arena for the team and making it part of his legacy in Wisconsin, the state he represented for decades in the U.S. Senate.

Four “serious suitors” for the club emerged earlier this year, and it appears as though former Timberwolves GM David Kahn is part of a group that constitutes one of those suitors. Woelfel suggests that the new ownership could be around to make decisions in advance of the draft, but there’s usually a period of at least a few months between the time the sale of a team is consummated and official league approval of the deal. Still, it’s not uncommon for incoming ownership to start calling the shots before the league formally transfers power, so perhaps whoever takes control of the Bucks will indeed start molding the team soon after this season ends.

Concerns about the future of the Bucks are part of the reason why the NBA is apparently reluctant to expand anytime soon, with the threat of Seattle as a vacant market around as motivation for civic leaders to acquiesce to demands for a new arena. The Bucks seemingly face an uphill battle to secure public funding from local governments who’ve shown little willingness to play along. It’s not clear whether a new ownership group will change the atmosphere locally or signal the sort of long-term stability for Milwaukee that would lead the NBA to reconsider expansion.

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