Haslams buying 25% of Milwaukee Bucks for $875 million

Feb. 27—Jimmy and Dee Haslam, owners of the Browns in the NFL since 2012 and owners of the MLS' Columbus Crew since 2019, are adding part ownership of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks to their expanding sports portfolio, a source close to the purchasing process confirmed.

The Haslam Sports Group is buying 25% ownership in the Bucks from co-owner Marc Lasry for $875 million. The Bucks are valued at $3.5 billion, according to reports.

The value of NBA teams is skyrocketing. Lasry and his business partner, Wes Edens, bought the Bucks for $550 million in 2014. They were valued at $2.3 billion in 2022.

The decision by the Haslams and business partner Pete Edwards to purchase the Crew in December 2018 (the sale was completed a month later) was vital to keeping the franchise from moving from Columbus to Austin, Texas for the 2019 season.

"We appreciate all the diligent work from the Haslam and Edwards Families, the leadership from the Columbus Partnership, the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio, Precourt Sports Ventures, and all of those who have contributed over the past several months to create the elements that will solidify Crew SC's long-term future as an integral part of the Columbus sports scene," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement when the sale was completed.

The Crew won the MLS Cup in 2020. The Crew christened a new stadium, Lower.com Field, in July 2021.

The Browns have had only one winning season (11-5 in 2020) since the Haslams purchased the team from Randy Lerner for $1.05 billion on Oct. 25, 2012. Including one playoff victory and one playoff defeat, the Browns are 60-119-1 under the Haslams' leadership. Despite the lack of success, the Browns were valued at $3.9 billion by visualcaptalist.com in December 2022 — almost four times what the franchise cost 10 years earlier.

Of course, the Browns were a struggling franchise long before the Haslams arrived from Knoxville, Tenn., to take them off Lerner's hands. They had only two winning seasons — 2002 and 2007 — between 1999 and 2011 and did not win a playoff game in that stretch.

The Haslams are gaining 25% ownership in what has become a model NBA franchise. The Bucks won the NBA title in 2021 and currently are second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 43-17, a mere half-game behind the Celtics. The Bucks have won 14 straight games.

The Bucks play in Fiserv Forum, an Arena that opened in August 2018. The lease on FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Browns, expires after the 2028 season.

The Haslams are exploring ways to renovate FirstEnergy Stadium to bring it up to the standards of more modern NFL homes such as SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, where the Rams and Chargers play, and Allegiant Stadium where the Las Vegas Raiders play.

Perhaps the Haslams' ownership in the Bucks can teach them ways to improve their stewardship of the Browns.