This new arena is probably happening. Bucks name new members to the ownership group.

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Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, and Jamie Dinan

Friday morning the Milwaukee Bucks announced several new members of the ownership team: New York hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan, Wisconsin Energy Corporation Gale Klappa, Brookfield developer Jon Hammes, and the Partners for Community Impact LLC (PCI). PCI members include Michale Barber, Valerie Daniels-Carter, Virgis Colbert, Charles Harvey, and Cory Nettles. They’re all very important people.

The big name is billionaire Jamie Dinan. According to Forbes, he’s worth $2.2 billion dollars.

Like Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, he’s a major Democratic donor on the national level, so Scott Walker could not possibly care about what he wants. Neither Dinan, Lasry, nor Edens have given any money publicly to Mary Burke, Tom Barrett, or Chris Abele. Until any of these billionaires actually turn the promise of putting their money into Wisconsin into a reality, the politicians’ responses to the very unpopular idea of public funding for a new arena are going to be lukewarm at best.

But Dinan is not necessarily the name to get hung up on.

It’s the local names that are the important ones. Between them, Klappa and Hammes have contributed over $25,000 to Scott Walker in the last three elections. That’s only looking what’s been contributed in their names and not counting what’s been contributed in spouse’s names or to PACs. Klappa has also given $2,000 to Tom Barrett. They also have scattered contributions to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices, State Senators, etc.

They’re connected locally. And they’re connected much further than just the campaign contributions. Regular people, like you and me, we can give money, we can vote, but after the election we’re completely inconsequential until the next election. Gale Klappa is in charge of all gas and electricity in southeast Wisconsin. Hammes is the top healthcare developer in the state and he’s been involved in the renovation of Lambeau Field and the development of the Kohl Center. Their resources are essential toward legitimizing the governing capacity of any regime that’s in charge after the election. They still have a voice after the election. If they’re talking about an arena, then our leaders are talking about arena.

PCI was added to help convince everyone that funneling resources from our poorest neighborhoods into downtown is still a good idea even though that’s one of the many, many reasons for why the insane levels of segregation and poverty exist in the city, but that’s a discussion for another time.

There was quite a panic on the internet yesterday about a secret NBA conspiracy to take the Bucks out of Milwaukee and move them to Seattle. The thinking went that the NBA would encourage, quietly of course, Lasry and Edens to fail to get an arena built in Milwaukee, at which point the league could buy back the Bucks, sell them to an ownership team looking to move them to Seattle and split a billion dollars among the existing owners. Simple as that.

That seemed far-fetched on Thursday and it seems nearly insane on Friday. What was true when the team was purchased was true before the team was purchased and is true today: If an arena gets built, the Bucks will stay in Milwaukee.

Lasry and Edens are smart guys. They know what they don’t have and they know what kind of resources and people they need to get a new arena deal done. These new members of the ownership group reflect that.

Categories: Arena Debates

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10 Comments

  1. I admire the optimism, but really it seems just as possible that these folks are buying in to get bought out by the NBA later, no? It’s a risk-free venture for them. If lasry and edens are as smart as you think, they will give every impression that they want to keep the team here… regardless of their actual intentions.

    It’s been interesting to see the dramatic shift in bucks coverage since the regime change.

    • The Bucks were bought for 550 million. The NBA buyback will only be for 575 million. I don’t think they got into this with such a little return on the investment.

      • Those were my initial thoughts. If Lasry and Edens (both incredibly bright guys) didn’t believe they had a good chance of procuring a new stadium they wouldn’t have gone through the trouble. Also, I trust in Kohl’s judgement that these two were the right men for the job to acquire said stadium, and not be massive sleaze-balls.

      • There was a clause in the initial deal that said if the Bucks don’t build a new arena the NBA has the right to buy them back from 575 million. Then in turn, sell them back to different owners in Seattle who would likely pay over a billion dollars for the team, giving the NBA owners a large return on investment.

  2. Fanatasy Basketball!

    I am creating a fantasy league, going to try to get people from here and Brewhoop to join. Please email me at Andrew_Bush8@yahoo.com if you are interested. First 19 people who email me will automatically be sent an invite! If you could help me spread the word that would be great!

  3. first off, can we keep political opinions off the sports pages please? kinda hard for it to be an escape from the dregs of reality otherwise. If you want to cover it from a strict stand point of who would be for or against a new arena, fine…… but the other garbage about who’s funneling money where based on speculation, and the opinions on that speculation is pointless. When I come to read about my teams, I dont come to read about yours or anyone elses political opinions, we have too much of that in the regular news at it is.

    ok got that off my chest….. now as for the arena and buy back situations, looking at the potential money in all of this, it would have been foolish and a net loss for lasry and edens to, coming into this deal be prepared to sell off the team right away….. all the NBA did was provide an “out” if the political winds dont shift towards a new arena. It would still be a net loss for the ownership group, even if the NBA did deliver on some funds from the buyout. What Im talking about here is running the team at the expected loss for the 2 years until the buyback is even possible. (do we really expect this team as it is right now to be turning a profit in that near of term? I certainly do not)

    now that just covers the money we CAN see, you can bet there is under the table money, greasing the wheels money being thrown around as well, if for no other reason than to back up that impression that they are trying to build a new arena. Anyone that knows big business knows this practice to be commonplace. All this is just to say the investment in the bucks is much larger than just the up front money paid for the the team initially. Which makes the motivation of a buyout and move of the team to seattle highly unlikely.