Alex Meruelo, a Cuban-American billionaire businessman, is close to acquiring a majority stake in the Arizona Coyotes, according to multiple reports.
Meruelo, the founder of California-based construction and real estate development firm the Meruelo Group, would replace Andrew Barroway as the Coyotes’ majority owner. Barroway would retain a minority stake in the franchise.
Any deal needs to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors. A vote is expected at the next Board meeting in Las Vegas on June 19 though a sale may not be finalized until later in the summer.
Should the deal go through, Meruelo would become the first and only Latino owner in the NHL.
“What I can confirm right now is that Alex Meruelo is very interested in purchasing the Coyotes,” team president and CEO Ahron Cohen told The Athletic. “Alex’s track record of strong business success certainly precedes him – and it makes him a great candidate to help our team build upon the positive momentum we have established over the past year.”
Barroway became the Coyotes’ majority owner in 2014, when he purchased 51 per cent of the franchise for $152.5m. He increased his stake to 54 per cent two years later.
According to Forbes, the Coyotes were valued at $290m in 2018, making them the least valuable franchise in the league.
In January, the Coyotes renewed their lease at the Gila River Arena in Glendale for another season, but the team’s long-term future in the Phoenix area remains in doubt.
The franchise has been committed to remain in Arizona but this position may change under Meruelo’s ownership.
In 2011, Meruelo made a reported $300m bid to purchase a majority stake in the NBA Atlanta Hawks, as well as the operating rights to Philips Arena (now State Farm Arena) but the deal fell through over some financing issues.