Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has agreed to sell the team for a record $2.2 billion to restaurant and casino billionaire Tilman Fertitta, two people with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports.
The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the transaction is announced.
The Rockets announced on July 17 that Alexander, who bought the team for $85 million in 1993, had put the team up for sale.
“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets,” Fertitta said in a release from the team. “This is a life-long dream come true. Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity. He has the heart of a champion.”
The release also noted the imperfect timing of the transaction.
“It is truly unfortunate that this announcement is occurring amidst the aftermath of one of the biggest tragedies in our great city.”
Alexander said he’s known Fertitta for 24 years. “(I) don’t think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of the Houston Rockets,” Alexander said in the team’s statement.
By selling to Fertitta, the Rockets will be in the hands of a local owner. Fertitta lives in Houston and grew up in Galveston, Texas.
Fertitta is the CEO of Landry’s Inc., a company that owns restaurants, casinos, hotels, aquariums and a high-end car dealership.
He was a partial owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans but had sell his portion of the team after buying the Golden Nugget casinos. NFL rules prevents team owners from owning gambling-related companies.
He is also the host of CNBC reality show Billion Dollar Buyer.
The Los Angeles Clippers were sold in 2014 for a then-record $2 billion to Steve Ballmer.
source: usa today