Business Journal: Herb Kohl seeks new investors for Bucks

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Bucks Owner Herb Kohl on Monday, December 16th announces he is seeking new investors to share ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA basketball team. Kohl says without new investors and a new arena, the Bucks cannot survive long-term in Milwaukee.

"What about the future? What's the future of the Milwaukee Bucks?" Herb Kohl said Monday.

It's the same question Kohl answered back in 1985 when Kohl says he bought the Bucks to make sure the team would stay in Milwaukee -- and he says he remains committed to that as he searches for new investors.

"We make money. We are a good investment. A lot of times, sports teams don't and the value still goes up because it's that kind of investment," Kohl said.

According to the Business Journal, Kohl says that he anticipates the process taking several months and that he has retained Allen & Co. of New York City as his adviser.

The same firm advised Kohl in 2003 when he ultimately decided to spurn an offer to sell the Bucks to former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. Allen & Co. also advised current Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig on the sale of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005 to a group led by Los Angeles investment executive Mark Attanasio.

The announcement gives instant rise to speculation about Milwaukee-area investors who would be ready to step up and invest in the Bucks. A few of those prospective investors previously said they had not discussed buying the team. But that could change now.

Also, Bucks forward Caron Butler, a Racine native, recently said he would like to be part of an ownership group.

Kohl says new investors would revitalize the franchise, and most probably bring a financial contribution to a new arena. The NBA has told Kohl the Bucks need to make progress towards a new arena by the time the lease expires in 2017.

“The process will start this week and will take as long as it needs to take,” Kohl said.

The announcement comes at a critical juncture in the Bucks history.

The NBA has told Kohl the team needs an arena that meets the league’s standards and gave Kohl until 2017 to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, a 48-member task force held its first meeting Dec. 13 to explore funding needs and sources for cultural, entertainment and sports assets in Milwaukee, including the Bucks home arena, the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The task force was convened by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).

"Without new investors and without a new facility -- would we at some point lose the Bucks? Yes," Kohl said.

Kohl has said he plans to make a significant contribution to a new arena if one is built downtown for the Bucks and other tenants, including Marquette University men’s basketball, the Milwaukee Admirals and concerts.

"I'm speaking in terms of my own contribution -- whether I'm an owner or I won't be an owner. Conceivably, I believe in the need for this. I believe in Milwaukee. I believe in downtown development, and as a community citizen, I'm going to put contribution in this and I hope the private sector feels the same way," Kohl said.

Kohl bought the Bucks for $18 million in 1985 from a group led by Janesville business executive Jim Fitzgerald. The Bucks moved from what is now called the U.S. Cellular Arena to the Bradley Center when the newer building opened in 1988.

Kohl says any agreement with new investors would include a clause that the Bucks stay in Milwaukee.

CLICK HERE to read more on this story via the Milwaukee Business Journal.

CLICK HERE for a Milwaukee Business Journal article called "Who might join Milwaukee Bucks ownership group?"