The Haslam Sports Group has closed on its purchase of Marc Lasry’s stake in the Milwaukee Bucks with a deal that values the NBA team at roughly $3.2 billion, according to someone with direct knowledge of the agreement.
Dee and Jimmy Haslam, owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, now own about 25% of the Bucks. The deal closed early Friday morning, said the source, who was granted anonymity because the details are not public.
It’s among the highest valuations ever for an NBA team in a transaction. Earlier this year, billionaire Mat Ishbia purchased a majority stake in the Phoenix Suns in a deal that valued the franchise at a league record $4 billion. The previous NBA high was the $3.3 billion value of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center when Joe Tsai took over in 2019.
Representatives for Lasry and the Haslam Sports Group, which also owns the MLS’s Columbus Crew, declined to comment on financial details.
The Haslam Sports Group, which has been looking for years to expand its sports portfolio, reached an agreement with Lasry in late February (Sportico reported at the time that the deal valued the club at $3.5 billion). The Haslams met with the NBA’s finance committee in New York earlier this month, and the agreement was later approved by league owners.
The Haslams bought the Browns in 2012 for $1.05 billion, and took control of the Crew in 2018 in a complex transaction that involved the league’s expansion to Austin. The Browns are now worth $3.18 billion, according to Sportico’s valuations, and the Crew is worth $560 million. In addition to the franchises, the Haslam Sports Group also manages the current stadiums for the Browns and Crew. It also owns a real estate development adjacent to the soccer venue.
Lasry and Wes Edens led a group that purchased the Bucks in 2014 for $550 million, at the time a record for an NBA team in a control transaction. Buoyed by new media deals and growing global popularity, NBA team values have soared since then. The Bucks are currently worth $2.43 billion, according to Sportico’s numbers.
In that span, the team opened a new arena while becoming one of the NBA’s more successful franchises on the court. Led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks won an NBA title in 2021, the franchise’s first in five decades, and finished this season with the league’s best record. The Bucks averaged 17,531 fans per game this season, more than the listed seating capacity for Fiserv Forum.
Edens and Lasry agreed to alternate five-year stints as the team’s main governor, and Lasry’s run was set to end following next season. However, he’s not exiting sports entirely; the Avenue Capital group co-founder is planning his own fund to invest across the industry.