There were no shortage of potential buyers for the Houston Rockets once they were surprisingly offered up for sale by owner Leslie Alexander in mid-July. From NBA legends to celebrities and more, the list of interested parties was a who's who of household names including Beyonce, Hakeem Olajuwon and many more.
According to both Mark Berman of Fox26 Houston and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, the Rockets have been sold to Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion, which is an NBA record.
The team confirmed the news Tuesday morning, but did not say anything about the sales price.
The Houston Rockets today announced that a definitive agreement has been signed for the purchase of the NBA franchise by Houston businessman Tilman J. Fertitta, sole owner of the Landry’s restaurant empire and Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. The transaction, which includes operation of the Toyota Center Arena, requires the approval of the NBA Board of Governors. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, and Mr. Fertitta has no other partners in connection with the transaction.
This process started back in July, and it is truly unfortunate that this announcement is occurring amidst the aftermath of one of the biggest tragedies in the history of our great City.
“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.”
“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.”
NBA sources told FOX 26 Sports Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has reached an agreement to sell his franchise to Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta.
The sources indicate the team could possibly announce the agreement today.
Neither side has been available for comment.
Rockets CEO Tad Brown, who is handling the sale for Alexander, said when the team was put on the market in July he would have no comment during the process.
When Brown announced the Rockets were for sale, Fertitta quickly said he had an interest in buying the team, but the owner and chairman of Landry's, Inc., has said nothing concerning his efforts since.
One of Fertitta's competitors to buy the Rockets was another Houston billionaire, Dan Friedkin.
Several former Rockets stars have expressed some level of interest in being part of a Rockets ownership group, including Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes, all members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bloomberg reported last month entertainer Beyonce, who is from Houston, was considering investing in the Rockets.
ESPN's Darren Rovell also points out that Fertitta tried to buy the Rockets back in 1994 for $81 million, losing out on the purchase by $4 million.