Where most sports fans view professional franchise owners as being greedy, Herb Kohl certainly is not. Gifts $500 to arena workers
Herb Kohl knows how to show gratitude as evidenced by his parting gesture to the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team and the employees of the Bradley Center. Every single person who works at the arena for Bucks games received a $500 gift from the team’s outgoing owner.
The former US Democratic senator from the State of Wisconsin parted with the NBA franchise which he held for almost thirty years for $550 million. Kohl has now pledged $100 million of that – out of his own pocket – to pay for renovations at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center. He made the pledge due to concerns that the new ownership might move the team to a different city or at the least lay off workers because of problems with the old arena.
First Senator Kohl agreed to sell the Bucks for less than he could have just to keep the franchise in Milwaukee. Now, in order to ensure that downtown Milwaukee not lose any jobs, he will help the team’s new owners earn more money by increasing ticket sales and other revenue streams that a renovated arena will make possible.
In an accompanying letter sent to the Arena’s employees with their $500 checks the former senator wrote, “Today, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation. That’s why I am pleased to provide you with a gesture of my appreciation.”
Perhaps Kohl is attempting in some way to make amends for his poor management of the Bucks who never truly competed under his tutelage. In the NBA major revenue sharing and national television contracts make it easy for small market teams like the Bucks to make money even when they have losing seasons. This leaves little incentive on owners to risk spending a lot of money on big contracts in order to improve their teams.
In 29 years of ownership, Kohl did just that.
Having been elected four times to the US Senate from Wisconsin beginning in 1988, Kohl served as a senator for twenty four years. The 79 year old chose not to seek reelection in 2012.
The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, Kohl made his money as a real estate investor. He also inherited from his father, together with his brother, a chain of 50 grocery stores, several department stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores.
The Milwaukee Bucks finished dead last in the NBA’s Eastern Conference this season with the worst record in the entire league. The team has not had a winning season since 2003 and has not been a serious contender since the 1980s.