By ALAN SNEL
The new owner of the NBA Houston Rockets has a familiar name for Las Vegans.
Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Golden Nugget casino hotel in downtown Las Vegas and the Golden Nugget in Laughlin and a cousin of Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, owners of Station Casinos, has purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion from Leslie Alexander.
The $2.2 billion purchase price is a stunning number because Forbes had the Rockets pegged in value at $1.65 billion, with operating income of $62.7 million a year.
But then again, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in 2014 — a purchase price that sent NBA team values through the ceiling and set the stage for Fertitta to buy the Rockets for $2.2 billion. An interesting connection between the Clippers and Rockets is that former Clippers star guard Chris Paul now plays for the Rockets.
Alan Snel of LVSportsBiz.com appeared on Ed Graney’s radio show on ESPN 1100-AM, The Press Box, to discuss the impact of Fertitta purchasing the Rockets.
If the Rockets sell for $2.2 billion, it’s reasonable to believe the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakes would be valued at more $3 billion.
Those are realistic numbers when you consider that Tilman’s cousins, Lorenzo and Frank, sold UFC for $4 billion a year ago. With that kind of cash on hand, Lorenzo Fertitta, a big football fan, was thought to have the resources to also get involved in buying an NFL team and moving it to Las Vegas.
A Galveston, Texas native, Tilman Fertitta is a billionaire from Houston who also owns the Landry’s, multi-brand restaurant chain of more than 500 stores in 35 states.
“I am pumped. Always been a dream to own an NBA team,” Fertitta tweeted today.
Bettors at Golden Nugget will not be able to wage on the Rockets with the casino’s owner also owning the NBA team. The Fertitta purchase of the Rockets has to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors.
Fertitta also tried to buy the Rockets for $81 million in 1993, but Alexander outbid him with an $85 million offer. Fertitta is also an original investor in the Houston Texans.