Alibaba co-founder buys Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center

Mikhail Prokhorov has reached a deal to sell his majority stake in the Brooklyn Nets, as well as full ownership of the Barclays Center, in what may be the most expensive deal in U.S. sports history.

Joseph Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, will be the sole owner of the Nets, according to the NBA’s announcement. Tsai was already a minority owner of the team after he acquired a 49 percent stake in 2017.

Tsai will become chair of the Barclays Center board of directors and will take over leadership of the team as a result of his deal with the Russian billionaire, according to the league. The current management will continue to run the team and venue under his ownership.

The deal is valued at $2.35 billion, the New York Post reported earlier this week, citing sources familiar with the matter. If that’s true, it’s the most expensive deal in U.S. sports history.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago. He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank,” Tsai said in a press release. “I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

Prokhorov’s time owning the Nets saw the team move from New Jersey.

“It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal,” he said. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy.”

Brett Yormark, the CEO of BSE Global, will oversee the transition. He joined the team’s leadership in 2005 and helped with moving the team and opening the Barclays Center. He will leave the team after working on the transition.

Nets fans have high hopes riding on star point guard Kyrie Irving in the upcoming season. The team also signed a contract with Kevin Durant, who is expected to sit out the season with an injury.


FOX Business' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.