Houston restaurateur Tilman Fertitta is buying the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion, according to people familiar with the deal.
The price would be a new high for the National Basketball Association, breaking the $2 billion Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.
Rockets owner Les Alexander announced in July that he was selling the franchise, which he bought for $85 million in 1993. Forbes, which compiles an annual valuation of sports franchises, estimates the team’s value at $1.65 billion, No. 8 in the league behind the Brooklyn Nets and ahead of the Dallas Mavericks.
Fertitta is the chairman and chief executive officer of Landry’s Inc., one of the world’s largest restaurant and hospitality companies. A Landry’s representative didn’t return a request for comment on the purchase, which is expected to be announced officially as early as today.
“This is a life-long dream come true,” said Fertitta in a joint statement with Alexander. A native of Galveston and life-long resident of the Houston area, Fertitta is buying the team without partners, and the deal includes operation of the team’s arena.
Rockets president Tad Brown didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the purchase price. The sale requires approval by the NBA.
The Rockets, who last won an NBA title in 1995, recently gave star guard James Harden the largest contract in NBA history, a four-year extension that brings the deal to a reported $228 million. The team also recently traded for nine-time All Star point guard Chris Paul.
News of the sale was reported earlier today by the Houston Chronicle.
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