Bucks owner Herb Kohl searching for new investors

Herb Kohl, 78, is a former U.S. senator who has owned the Bucks since 1985.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Bucks owner Senator Herb Kohl is in quest of additional ownership partners who are committed to keeping the franchise in the city.

Kohl says the search will take place over the next several months as he considers "broadening" the ownership of the Bucks as a way to strengthen the franchise and keep it in Milwaukee. Steven Greenberg, managing director of New York-based Allen & Company, will advise Kohl during the process.

"When I bought the Milwaukee Bucks back in 1985, it was for one reason — to keep the team here," Kohl said in a statement. "To this day, that remains a top priority. We are proud to be an NBA city. We are very grateful to our fans and business partners who support us. I am especially proud of the extraordinary people in the Bucks organization who work tirelessly to deliver a good product and great entertainment. The best players in the world perform in our city every year, spreading the names of Milwaukee and Wisconsin around the country and, indeed, around the world.

"I have done business with Allen & Co. for over thirty years and they are a great organization. In the event new investor partners are added, they will need to be as committed to keeping the team in Milwaukee as I am."

The Bucks currently have the worst record in the NBA at 5-19 and are on pace to threaten the franchise-worst record of 20-62 set in the 1993-94 season. Milwaukee won the lottery following that year and used the top pick on forward Glenn Robinson.

Incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver has already made clear the city of Milwaukee will need a new arena in the near future to replace the 25-year-old BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks’ lease with the arena runs through 2017, the likely deadline for securing plans for a new building.

The biggest hurdle Kohl or any other ownership partner faces in keeping the team in town is getting a new arena financed and built.

"In addition to committed ownership, it is imperative that we get to a new 21st century sports and entertainment facility in a timely manner, not only for the Bucks but also for the more than 1.5 million visitors who attend nearly 200 events held there each year," Kohl said.

Kohl is in his 29th season as president and owner of the franchise, as he purchased the team on March 1, 1985 from Jim Fitzgerald.

A native of Milwaukee, Kohl attended Milwaukee Washington High School and the University of Wisconsin before earning his master’s degree from Harvard University. Kohl joined the family-owned Kohl Corporation in 1959, serving in many capacities to the company which ran grocery and department stores. The family sold the corporation in 1979.

Kohl was first elected to the United States Senate in 1988 and was re-elected three times before retiring when his term ended on Jan. 3, 2013.

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