It is the most expensive purchase in sports history, as Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Landry’s collection of restaurants and the Golden Nugget chain of casinos/hotels, has agreed to buy the Houston Rockets (NBA) from Les Alexander for a reported $2.2 billion.
The deal was announced by the Rockets today. Though the Rockets did not announce terms of the purchase, several media sources pegged the sales price at $2.2 billion. The sale also includes rights to manage the Toyota Center.
If the $2.2 billion price tag is accurate, it would be the most expensive sports-franchise sale ever. The previous record: the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 for $2 billion and the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. He’s on record as being the sole buyer of the team. Fertitta’s interest in the team is no secret: he tried to buy it before Les Alexander closed on a deal, and he stated an interest after the team went on the market.
“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets. This is a life-long dream come true,” said Fertitta, a native of Galveston and life-long resident of the Houston area. “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. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA’s approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston.”
Fertitta is a familiar presence at Toyota Center, taking in several Rockets games annually from courtside seats. He’s definitely a basketball fan, donating $20 million to the University of Houston for renovations to the school’s arena, resulting in a renaming of the facility to the Fertitta Center.
The purchase must be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.
“I am excited to welcome and pass the torch to Tilman. He is a Houstonian, business leader and committed to the success and excellence of the Rockets both on and off the basketball court,” said Leslie Alexander, the current Rockets owner. “I have personally known Tilman for over 24 years and don’t think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of our Houston Rockets.”