Alex Meruelo on Monday became majority owner of the Coyotes, making history in the process as the first Latino to have controlling interest of an NHL team.
“This is an incredible moment for me and my entire family,” Meruelo, 55, said in a statement. “The Arizona Coyotes team is poised to do great things on and off the ice. I look forward to helping hockey continue to thrive in the desert, and I am committed to providing our passionate fans, loyal partners and the entire state of Arizona with a team they can be proud of for years to come.”
“I look forward to helping hockey continue to thrive in the desert.” – Alex Meruelo
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 29, 2019
Forbes.com reported the sale price at $300 million — much lower than initial reports that had the figure in the $400 million to $450 million range — and last month described a franchise that has been hemorrhaging money.
The son of Cuban immigrants, Meruelo, who got his start in his father’s tuxedo business, bought controlling interest of the team from Andrew Barroway, who will retain a minority share.
What sets Meruelo apart from many who’ve tried to help hockey thrive in the desert: He has a history of buying interests in businesses and improving them, rather than flipping them for quick profits.
He has built a broad portfolio of businesses in casino gaming, real estate, construction and engineering, hospitality, TV and radio stations, food services and private equity.
But he faces a stiff challenge in the Coyotes, who have faced huge financial hurdles, argue that they need a new arena and have struggled on the ice.
Forbes in December valued the franchise at $290 million, last among the NHL’s 32 teams, and the team has missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons and has never won a playoff series since the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Phoenix ahead of the 1996-97 season.
A glimmer of a bright spot, according to azcentral.com: The NHL hasn’t tapped into the Latino market, and Meruelo surely will have ideas about how to do that, adding that his experience in the gambling, broadcast and land development industries make him an ideal candidate to own a sports franchise, and in particular, the Coyotes.
Meruelo thanked Barroway for what he called “invaluable service to the club.”
“Andy deserves credit for stabilizing the franchise and for growing the game of hockey in Arizona,” Meruelo said. “I look forward to working with him in the future and want to thank him for his hard work and commitment to the team.”
Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen called Meruelo’s purchase of the team a capstone to what has, thus far, been a momentous offseason. “Mr. Meruelo is a proven winner and his track record of multi-faceted and dynamic business accomplishments makes us well-positioned for continued growth, progress and long-term success here in Arizona. Today marks a major step forward for our organization and our great fans and partners.”
The team has scheduled a news conference for Thursday to introduce Meruelo as the new controlling owner.