The Houston Rockets may have a new owner by the start of the 2017-18 season.
According to KRIV TV sports director Mark Berman, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has reached an agreement to sell the franchise to Tilman Fertitta.
Fertitta is a Houston-based billionaire and the chairman, CEO, and sole owner of Landry’s, Inc.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the sale price is $2.2 billion, the highest sales price for a franchise in NBA history.
Sources: Leslie Alexander has agreed to a deal to sell team to Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta for NBA record sales price of $2.2B.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 5, 2017
The price tag surpasses the previous record set by Steve Ballmer, who bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.
The emergence of Fertitta fulfills one of Alexander’s goals for a new owner to keep the team in Houston. Fertitta has been a staple of the Houston community and is currently the chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System.
Fertitta has previous ties with the Rockets as advisory director during Houston’s two championship seasons in 1994 and 1995.
Alexander leaves a championship legacy as the first owner to win a major professional sports championship in Houston.
In 1993, Alexander purchased the Rockets for $85 million. Forbes recently valued the franchise at $1.65 billion.
Alexander announced in July he was putting the team up for sale, hoping to focus more of his time, and newfound wealth, on philanthropic tasks.
“It’s been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years,” Alexander said in a statement in July. “I’ve had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans.
“And the Houston community has been home to me; I will continue to support the charities I have made commitments to throughout the years.”
Even before selling the team, Alexander showed his true colors to the city of Houston in its time of need, donating $10 million to help in the Harvey relief efforts.