Lasry Cashes Out

Unable to buy his kid a U.S. Senate seat from Wisconsin, New York hedge fund operator Marc Lasry has decided to pull up stakes and sell his share in the Milwaukee Bucks.

Lasry and his partners bought the Bucks from Herb Kohl in 2014 for $550 million. After the taxpayers helped pay for a new arena for them, the Bucks are now valued at $3.5 billion. Lasry’s share was 25%. So, that means his $140 million investment eight years ago is now worth $875 million. That’s a 636% increase. Pretty good day’s work, I’d say.

The cost of the $500 million Fiserv Forum was split between the Bucks and taxpayers. After they moved in in 2018, the team’s value skyrocketed. It might not be possible to quantify just how much of that $3.5 billion current team valuation is due to the new arena, but it’s fair to say that it’s a chunk.

So, here are a couple of questions.

If the taxpayers ponied up $250 million in 2018 and the team’s value has increased by 636% since 2014 let’s split the difference and say that half of that increase, or 300%, is due to the arena. That’s not only fair, but actually pretty conservative. That would mean our $250 million is now worth $750 million. Lasry’s share is 25% or about $187 million. When can we expect our check for $187 million from Lasry? Heck, that would still leave him with $688 million. He could get by, maybe even have enough left over to buy Alex a Senate seat from New York.

And my second question: why did we need to pay the $250 million in the first place? Team owners couldn’t have come up with the whole cost of $500 million for their own arena? That’s only one-seventh of what the team’s worth. If they didn’t want to pay cash, I think they could have gotten a loan. They sort of had the collateral.

Marc Lasry was a bandit, but Jimmy and Dee Haslam are worse.

Can it get worse? Why, yes it can. Lasry could have sold to a lot of rich people but he got top dollar from some of the most disreputable people in the world of professional team owners — and that is a bar so low that only snakes can slither under it. The snakes in question are Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam. If it were possible to run the Browns even further into the ground that’s what the Haslam’s have done. They are erratic owners firing general managers and coaches willy-nilly. And when the rest of the NFL wouldn’t touch Deshaun Watson, facing two dozen civil suits from women alleging harassment and assault, the Haslam’s signed him to a big contract. With Bucks stalwarts like Khris Middleton free to go after this season, will they want to stick with a team partially run by the Haslams? If Lasry cared at all about Milwaukee he wouldn’t have sold to people like this.

Let this be a lesson to us. Not another dime for the Milwaukee Brewers.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

7 thoughts on “Lasry Cashes Out

  1. If the Guv and legislature feel they must help the Brewers, there is no reason the $290 million can’t be a no cost or low cost loan. I’ll bet the Brewers are pretty ticked at Lasry right now.


  2. That, Mr. Anderson, is an excellent idea. As a taxpayer, I would have no problem with a no cost loan if it guarantees that the Brewers significantly extend their lease and commitment to Milwaukee. Mark Attanasio might not like your idea but he could always sell the team if its expenses surpass its income. MLB franchises are lucrative businesses and it seems like there’s always some incredibly rich guy who wants a toy, even if that toy has to be in a backwater like Wisconsin.


  3. I didn’t know you were business/finance writer, Dave.

    Your conclusion makes perfect sense.

    Unfortunately, big-shot pols like to suck up to big shot team owners. And to their donations.


  4. Eminently reasonable suggestion!

    And if the $290M has to be anything but coming from the owner’s pockets, a loan at current rates is the only thing I would go fo.


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