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Kohl announces sale of Bucks, $100M gift for new arena

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Just as his Milwaukee Bucks were preparing to take the court for the last time this season, Senator Herb Kohl announced Wednesday that he has sold the team.

Two kingpins in the area of high finance from the New York area, Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens, have purchased the NBA franchise (www.milwaukeebucks.com), which has been in existence since 1968.

Pricetag: $550 Million.

The sale is pending approval from the NBA Board of Governors (www.nba.com) which is slated to meet beginning Thursday.

Kohl bought the team in March of 1985 for a reported $18 Million in order to insure that the team stay put.

His legacy is that of having saved the Bucks and helped preserve the city's major league image in the process.

Kohl continued that quest by insisting that any new owners keep the Bucks right here.

"This is a game changer for this community," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said at the press conference announcing the sale.

"We would not be where we are today in this community if it weren't for the generosity and the commitment of Herb Kohl."

The presser took place at the BMO Harris Bradley Center where the team has played its home games since 1988.

It is one of the oldest facilities in the league and was built with sight lines better suited for hockey when it was donated to the city by Lloyd and Jane Pettit, then owners of the Milwaukee Admirals.

Edens cited the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers as models of teams that have improved their facilities and their fortunes on the field.

The league, team, city fathers and many fans want and need a new building to insure viability well into the future.

The most successful franchises in the league own their own buildings with complete control of all revenue streams.

How to pay for the facility has been a bone of contention for the last couple of years.

Public monies in this tough economy put toward a team that has not been too successful of late has been an impossible sell.

The new and former owners have played trump cards to push the argument forward.

Lasry and Edens have pledged an additional $100M to get that done.

Kohl cemented his position on the Mount Rushmore of local philanthropy with an additional $100M gift toward the project.

There will be a contribution from the city as well in the form of a super-TIF district perhaps in conjunction with a surcharge on hotels, taxis, restaurants and anyone else that would benefit from the 200+ events that will take place there each year.

It will be Fan Appreciation Day at the game against the Atlanta Hawks in what has been a forgettable season.

Clearly, there will be a heap of appreciation shown to Kohl, Edens and Lasry as the news filters throughout Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

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