New Coyotes Owner Meruelo Hopes To End Franchise's Financial Woes
New Coyotes Owner Alex Meruelo was officially introduced Thursday, and he "sounded determined to end the financial troubles that have defined" the franchise's tenure in Glendale, creating a "revolving door of majority ownership," according to Craig Morgan of THE ATHLETIC. Meruelo's actions will "define his ownership, but it is hard to ignore the word 'billionaire' that precedes his name." It is also "hard to ignore his array of successful businesses that include gaming, media and real estate holdings." There is a "sense from the top reaches of the league all the way down to the team executives that Meruelo could be a game-changer for the Coyotes in the same way" that Jeff Vinik turned around the Lightning or Tom Dundon "may be doing" with the Hurricanes. That "clearly begins with solving the team's arena situation." Meruelo "understands the foundational importance of stable ownership with legitimate financial backing" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/1). In Phoenix, Brandon Brown noted Meruelo "acknowledged that the team loses money being in Glendale and that he would explore playing in other parts of town." He said, "It's difficult because our fan base is more in the (other side of the) Valley, not so much here. Corporate sponsors aren't really out here. We don't have a long-term lease. All of those are really big challenges I have to address" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/1).
HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL: In Phoenix, Kent Somers writes it "might be naïve" to believe Meruelo "will be any different" than previous Coyotes owners. But "all indications are that Meruelo is different than anyone else who has owned the Coyotes." He is reportedly a billionaire, and that "comes in handy when trying to secure a new arena and improve a team that hasn't been to the playoffs the last seven seasons." Meruelo said Thursday in his opening remarks, "I sure as s**t want to win." It is the "kind of comment that can make PR types cringe." But it is a "passionate statement that will play well with Coyotes fans, who for years have suffered through ownership that either couldn't afford to try to win, or didn't care to" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/2).