Less than a year after Marc Lasry and Wes Edens bought the Milwaukee Bucks for $550 million, the franchise is now worth $600 million, according to a new analysis of the values of National Basketball Association franchises, the Journal Sentinel said.
The new valuations were published Wednesday by Forbes magazine, which annually values professional sports franchises, the report said.
Forbes said the average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, 74% more than last year. Forbes said it was the biggest one-year gain since it began valuing teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues in 1998, the Sentinel said.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the most valuable franchise, with a value of $2.6 billion, according to the report.
The catalyst for the jump in values is the new TV contracts the league signed. They are worth $930 million a year, almost three times the value of the current contracts. The new pacts with ESPN and Time Warner will begin with the 2016-’17 season, the Sentinel said.
In discussing the sale of the Bucks, Lasry had called the franchise a distressed asset. Based on the new Forbes valuations, that no longer appears to be the case, though the team is the least valued franchise in the league. Bucks president Peter Feigin said the Bucks have lost money the last four or five years, but Forbes reports the team had $11.5 million in operating income, the report said.
The Bucks are currently focused on finding a site for a proposed arena. The leading site appears to be land just north of the BMO Harris Bradley Center. That land is largely vacant, the Sentinel said.
Lasry said recently that the franchise hoped to select a site in the next 30 to 60 days. Aside from selecting a site, the team also will be working with state legislators on a financing plan for the proposed arena. A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker has not responded to a request for comment on whether he plans to include a financial plan for the arena in his proposed budget, the report said.
Investors led by hedge fund billionaire Lasry bought the Milwaukee Bucks in April 2014 for a then-record $550 million, but the record didn’t stand for long. The following summer Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO who remains the company’s largest shareholder, bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, Forbes said.