Reported billionaire and businessman Alex Meruelo is interested in purchasing the Arizona Coyotes, a team source confirmed to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Monday.
The matter was first reported by The Athletic’s Craig Morgan, who reported that not only is Meruelo interested in buying the desert NHL franchise, but that a sale was “in the advanced stages” but would need approval by the NHL Board of Governors, who will meet on June 19.
With the two sides having ironed out several key material issues in the past two weeks, the vote is expected to be on the agenda at the NHL Board of Governors meeting on June 19 in Las Vegas, site of the annual NHL Awards show. Even if the Board of Governors approves the sale, however, a closing date may not come until later this summer.
Meruelo would reportedly become the majority owner, a post currently held by Andrew Barroway, if the deal is completed.
Morgan also reported on how this potential sale could affect the team’s status in Arizona, writing, “league sources said that for the foreseeable future, Meruelo’s focus would be on making the team successful in Arizona.”
According to an LA Times article, Meruelo owns a chain of pizza restaurants in Los Angeles called La Pizza Loca; SLS Las Vegas, a casino on the Las Vegas Strip; the Grand Sierra Resort hotel and casino in Reno, Nevada; and real estate, construction companies, a bank, two TV stations, hip hop radio stations and more.
Reports around the web that offer suggestions of Meruelo’s net worth fail to definitively nail down a figure, but an infusion of cash from new ownership, should a deal be completed, could help the team greatly.
The Coyotes franchise, which has historically been plagued by ownership instability and has also sought a new arena in the Valley in-part to be closer to its main ticket-buying audience, was bought out entirely by Barroway in June of 2017. Barroway was originally one of several investors that made up a group called IceArizona, which bought the team in 2013. He became majority owner in 2014.
The team’s financial well-being could also help the on-ice product, giving the team more money to spend on players to get the Coyotes into the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.