- Thomson Reuters
Texas native and longtime Houston resident Tilman Fertitta has agreed to purchase the Houston Rockets for a record $2.2 billion, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Rockets released a statement confirming the sale of the team but did not confirm the price.
The purchase price reported by ESPN would eclipse the record $2 billion paid by Steve Ballmer for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 and the investment firm Guggenheim Partners for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.
Leslie Alexander, the current owner, purchased the club before the 1993-1994 season for $85 million. During Forbes’ most recent NBA franchise valuations, the Rockets were valued at $1.65 billion.
The club called the timing of the announcement “unfortunate,” having come during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
“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,” the team wrote in its statement.
Fertitta is the CEO of Landry’s, which operates several restaurant chains, and has a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes, making him the world’s richest restaurateur. He has also made money in casinos, is widely credited with the recent success of the University of Houston’s athletics program as the chairman of its board of regents, and is also a host of CNBC’s “Billion Dollar Buyer,” which was recently renewed for a second season.