Milwaukee Bucks owners Wesley Edens (left) and Marc Lasry will announce Friday that five prominent African-American business leaders and philanthropists, as well as two well-known Milwaukee business executives, have joined the franchise. Credit: Journal Sentinel files
By Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel
Oct. 16, 2014
In a dramatic expansion of their ownership group, the Milwaukee Bucks will announce Friday that five prominent African-American business leaders and philanthropists, as well as two well-known Milwaukee business executives, have joined the franchise.
Their addition gives Bucks owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and new investor Jamie Dinan, whose ownership stake had not been widely known, enhanced credibility as they continue to work not only on rebuilding the franchise but also on setting the stage for what is expected to be a major downtown economic redevelopment project.
While specifics of what the three have in mind beyond building a new arena have yet to be disclosed, the Bucks made a point in their announcement to say that members of Partners for Community Impact, or PCI, had previously been involved in urban economic development and renewal projects.
That suggests PCI may have a loftier goal in mind beyond rebuilding a franchise and building a new arena.
In a statement released by the Bucks, PCI said it was “excited to be involved in what truly is a transformational economic development project that will benefit the entire community.”
The names of the African-American executives who formed PCI in July are a who’s who of Milwaukee leaders who have been involved in other community initiatives and who sit on numerous boards and community-minded organizations.
The members include: Michael Barber, chief operating officer for GE Healthcare; Valerie Daniels-Carter, co-founder, president and CEO of V&J Holdings Cos., a major fast-food franchisee believed to be the largest female-run franchisee firm in the country; Virgis Colbert, a retired executive vice president of worldwide operations for the Miller Brewing Co. and a former member of the BMO Harris Bradley Center board; Charles Harvey, a Johnson Controls vice president and president of the Johnson Controls Foundation; and Cory Nettles, founder and managing director of Generation Growth Capital in Milwaukee.
Harvey also has been involved as a co-chairman of the Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force, which has been working on reaching a consensus on the best way to raise revenue to address the capital needs of the area’s major institutions, including a new arena.
Additionally, Gale Klappa, chairman and CEO of the Wisconsin Energy Corp., and Jon Hammes, founder and managing partner of the Hammes Co., a real estate development firm working in the health care and sports development industries, will become investors in the team.
The amount of investment by PCI and Klappa and Hammes individually was not disclosed.
According to the Bucks, the National Basketball Association has already approved the addition of PCI, Klappa and Hammes to the ownership group.
Nettles, who served as commerce secretary in former Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration, said in a statement that PCI has a “significant opportunity to positively impact an organization that cares about giving back to our community off the court as much as they care about winning on it.”
Daniels-Carter, whose family includes prominent attorney John Daniels and the Rev. Sedgwick Daniels, pastor of Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God In Christ in Milwaukee, called the new partnership a “unique opportunity to bring together a storied local sports franchise with a group of minority business leaders who are committed to ensuring that the benefits of this economic activity reach the full community.”
Bucks officials said PCI approached the team after hearing Lasry speak at a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce board meeting.
Dinan, who became a Bucks investor in July and was called a “substantial investor” by a team spokesman, said the addition of the PCI group gave the franchise more momentum to invest in the community. Dinan is the founder, chairman and CEO of York Capital Management, a successful hedge fund.
The addition of Klappa and Hammes also provides additional influence to the ownership team. Klappa is chairman and CEO of the Wisconsin Energy Corp., the state’s largest electric and natural gas utility.
For months, Hammes has been working with a MMAC panel that is studying various financing strategies to build a new multipurpose arena to replace the aging BMO Harris Bradley Center. Hammes also is a trustee with the Marquette University Board of Trustees, which has been following the arena discussion closely.
In a statement provided by the Bucks, Klappa said he couldn’t pass on joining the franchise.
“All of us are united in our goal of building the Bucks organization into an economic engine for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, providing quality jobs in the community, supporting economic growth and making substantive progress on building our statewide workforce.”
Added Hammes: “I am thrilled for the future of basketball in Milwaukee. Being home to a strong franchise will pay off in the long term for all of our local institutions and their athletic activities.”