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Arizona Coyotes finalize majority ownership sale to Alex Meruelo

General view outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Detroit Red Wings on October 12, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Alex Meruelo

The Arizona Coyotes have a new sole majority owner after businessman Alex Meruelo closed on his purchase of the NHL franchise on Monday, the team announced.

“This is an incredible moment for me and my entire family,” Meruelo 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.”

The change in ownership has been expected for some time.

As far back as last calendar year, it had been rumored and reported that a change of ownership could be on its way for the Arizona Coyotes, who most-recently had a sole owner in Andrew Barroway. The team said at the time that it was simply exploring investment options and nothing was set in stone, but in June, Meruelo’s name and further progress toward a deal both came into the spotlight.

At the NHL Board of Governors meeting on June 19, the league approved the sale of the Coyotes to Meruelo. That didn’t make it official, though, as even before the vote it was known that the deal wouldn’t close until later in the summer.

Now, finally, it is complete.

The sale makes Meruelo, 55, the only Hispanic controlling owner of an NHL team, a press release from the team said.

“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,” team president and CEO Ahron Cohen said in a statement. “Today marks a major step forward for our organization and our great fans and partners.”

Barroway will still keep a minority stake in the team and become an alternate governor along with Cohen and general manager John Chayka.

“It has been an honor and a privilege serving as the Chairman and Governor of the Coyotes,” said Barroway in a statement.  “I am proud of the work we did to make this organization better, and I am pleased to be passing the torch to someone who will guide this franchise to great days ahead.”

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, Nev.; and real estate, construction companies, a bank, two TV stations, hip hop radio stations and more.

The Coyotes enter the 2019-20 season with one of the highest salary cap hits in the NHL. That, in recent history, hasn’t been close to being the case.

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