Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo says selling Coyotes is something ‘I tried at every cost to avoid’

Apr 19, 2024, 11:16 AM

Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo expressed his disappointment on his decision of the sale and relocation of the team to Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I understand, it sucks, it’s heartbreaking and with that, we have plans to move forward”, Meruelo told Burns & Gambo in an exclusive interview with Arizona Sports on Thursday.

Meruelo spoke with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly on March 6 and discussed the arena situation of the team.

When Meruelo spoke with Bettman and Daly, he couldn’t tell them and the team when he expected an arena in Arizona would be built.

“Can you look your players in the eyes and tell them when they can expect to have a new arena built? And I looked at them and stared, and said no,” Meruelo said.

The Coyotes played their last game at Mullett Arena in Tempe Wednesday in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Meruelo was not present at the game that night as he told Burns & Gambo he was working on finalizing the deal that was approved Thursday that sent the team to Salt Lake City.

“I didn’t choose to not go to the game,” Meruelo said. “I was working on the deal and getting all the logistics and all the paperwork done and corrected and it was a process that went through all of this morning.”

In his interview with Burns & Gambo, Meruelo expressed his apologies to fans for the team’s relocation.

“It’s horrible. I apologize. It’s something that I tried at every cost to avoid,” Meruelo said. “To keep them here, in a campus facility, for another three or four years, was not right.”

“It’s very emotional, it’s very difficult for me personally. I try and understand what you’re going through, because, to have your team or your players moved is very difficult,” Meruelo said.

Meruelo stated that while the player and hockey operation will be moving to Utah, he has the name and a five year window to reactivate the franchise if he can get an arena built.  He will use the full-five years to reactivate the franchise.

Meruelo said he is looking at the upcoming land auction in Phoenix on June 27 as he intends to purchase it for the development of a new arena in order to get an expansion team within the next five years.

“I care about the team and the arena. That’s the first thing that will be built. I’m all in for the Coyotes, the fans and the arena,” Meruelo said.

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