Jack Kent Cooke is about to sell the Forum, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and the Kings hockey team for $67 million, one of the biggest deals in professional sports history, according to published reports.
A source familiar with the negotiations told The Washington Post last night the deal has not been consummated, but he expects it to be finalized in the next few days.
The expected buyer is Dr. Jerry Buss, a 46-year-old chemical engineer who made a fortune in Los Angeles area real estate.
Buss told The Los Angeles Times, "It might happen in a day or two or at the most two weeks. It may come to pass but right now it's very premature. It's not a definite deal; it's hardly official and it's silly to say it is."
But , The L.A. Times said, apparently the only thing holding up the deal, which was reported near completion more than a month ago, is Cooke's official announcement. The National Basketball Association must approve the sale of the Lakers and NBA commissioner Larry O'Brien said he has not been told of the sale.
The Los Angeles Herald - Examiner said a $67 million deal was completed and that Cooke "is selling the building and the two teams for $44 million more than they originally cost him."
Cooke, 66, built the Forum for $16 million in 1967 and bought the Lakers from Minneapolis businessman Bob Short for $5 million in 1967. He paid $2 million to the National Hockey League for the Kings as an expansion franchise in 1967.
The Herald - Examiner said Cooke has been pressured by National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle to sell either his hockey and basketball teams or the Washington Redskins.
Cooke is the majority stockholder in the Redskins, with team president Edward Bennett Williams the minority shareholder. His Redskin ownership is not involved in the deal.
There is an NFL mandate to have owners divest themselves of interests in other professional sports teams.
A source close to Cooke and the Redskins said that if Cooke did dispose of his West Coast interests he would be encouraged by Williams to become more involved with running the Redskins.
After Cooke's recent divorce from his wife Jean, a court awarded her half his net worth, which is estimated at $100 million.
The New York Times quoted an unnamed source as saying that Laker Coach Jerry West, a former NBA player, would resign or be dismissed.
The sale includes a series of property trades, including Cooke's shares in TelePrompter Corp. cable television firm, the San Diego Union said.