Tag:Alex Meruelo
Posted on: November 4, 2011 5:07 pm

Hawks sale to Meruelo offically off

Posted by Royce Young

A week ago, the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to pizza tycoon Alex Meruelo appeared to be in serious jeopardy. Friday, the deal officially fell through, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Los Angeles businessman Alex Meruelo's deal to buy the Atlanta Hawks is off.

The agreement between Meruelo and current Hawks owner Atlanta Spirit Group, signed in early August and contingent on NBA approval, was terminated by mutual agreement Friday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

The development came after the deal stalled in the NBA approval process over the past month, as previously reported by the AJC.

So who owns the Hawks now? The team remains in the hands of Atlanta Spirit -- a business group led by Bruce Levenson, Ed Peskowitz and Michael Gearon Jr.

The original deal fell apart after the NBA required "economic conditions" that were not part of the original deal. Read: more money.

Meruelo confirmed to the AJC that the deal was indeed off and issued this statement:

"I want to thank the Atlanta community who welcomed me with open arms. I am humbled and blessed by their warmth and hospitality. Basketball is my passion, but professional basketball is a business. Although all parties negotiated in good faith, we were not able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on some key issues given the current uncertainty surrounding the labor issue. As a result we mutually decided to terminate the deal effective immediately. I have great respect for the owners of the Hawks and the league and remain committed to fulfilling my dream of owning an NBA team. I look forward to that opportunity in the future."

Clearly the Atlanta Spirit group is still looking to sell the team, but it's about finding another buyer. Then again, who would want to buy an NBA franchise when OBVIOUSLY it's a death sentence to lose millions of dollars? Why would anyone want to spend the money for a franchise when as demonstrated by this lockout, you're in for major losses? Huh, who'd want that?

 Oh that's right, pretty much everybody.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 7:40 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 7:45 pm

Report: Meruelo lacks cash to buy Atlanta Hawks?

Posted by Ben Golliveralex-meruelo-atlanta-hawks

Alex Meruelo, the California pizza tycoon who reached an agreement to purchase ownership of the Atlanta Hawks back in August, is apparently having trouble pooling together enough cheese to buy his majority slice of the pie.

ESPN.com reports that the NBA and the Atlanta Spirit, the current ownership group, have concerns about Meruelo's financial situation less than three months after he reached a deal to purchase majority ownership of the team.
Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that there are concerns at the league level and within the Hawks' current ownership group, headed by Michael Gearon Jr. and Bruce Levenson, about whether Meruelo indeed has the sufficient funds to purchase a majority stake in the franchise and operate an NBA team.

Said Meruelo in a statement: "I have more than ample resources to purchase and operate the Hawks in a first-class manner. I am committed to the purchase of the Atlanta Hawks. While I can't comment on the details of the approval process, I have and will do everything I can to bring the process to a positive conclusion."
One source briefed on the matter said that Gearon and Levenson have acknowledged in recent league meetings that they might have to own the team for at least one more year.
The easy solution here is to help Meruelo sell a lot of pizza as quickly as possible. Someone send out a distress signal alerting the Mario Brothers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If that doesn't work, and it probably won't, then we'll just have to wait to see how this he-said, he-said argument shakes out. 

Given the significant capital required to run a professional sports team, the fact that more than half the current teams claim to lose money in a given year and Atlanta's struggles to sell tickets, you would think a prospective Hawks buyer would only entertain an ownership stake if he had way more than enough cash on hand to make things work. Even if the owners get all of their demands in the ongoing collective bargaining agreements, professional sports is not the first place you immediately think of when it comes to investments that will produce immediate returns. Especially in a city and state where football is king. 
Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: August 7, 2011 11:54 am

Alex Meruelo reaches agreement to purchase Hawks

By Matt Moore

The Atlanta Hawks finally, finally have an owner. After years of internal strife amongst the myriad owners involved in the team's ownership group, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that Los Angeles pizza chain owner and diverse business mogul Alex Meruelo has an agreement to become majority owner of the Hawks. The Hawks can finally move on. From the AJC:
Although his primary residence and business will remain in Southern California, Meruelo said he plans to spend a lot of time in Atlanta and to buy a home here.

"If you look at my previous ... business ventures, I'm very hands-on, and this will be no different," he said.

Asked if there is any scenario in which he would seek to move the Hawks out of Atlanta, Meruelo said: "Absolutely no. None."

Owning an NBA team, he said, "has been a dream of mine and a passion, and you'll definitely see that as I become, hopefully, the owner in a short period of time."
via L.A. businessman buying majority stake in Hawks  | ajc.com.

The Hawks have been handcuffed by a minority group that allowed them to conduct business and make deals but had no long-term leadership plans due to their desperation to end the agreement that caused a rift amongst the various owners. Meruelo won't take control of the Hawks for another few months while the Board of Governors works through the lockout and tries to get themselves into one place, which is really difficult all of a sudden. But when he does, Meruelo told the AJC that there's no risk he'll try and move the team to Los Angeles or anywhere else. The plan is to keep the team in Atlanta. 

All of this comes as a relief for Hawks fans, who not only had to be concerned about the team moving out like their co-tenants the Thrashers did, but have become increasingly frustrated with what is perceived as a lack of organization to the team's approach as it has stalled in the second round of the playoffs. Larry Drew actually took the team the furthest it has gone with the current core, but showed a number of tactical errors, and the contract of Joe Johnson is so expensive and so long there has to be concerns about the team's viability as a contender in a few years. As a result, Josh Smith has been on the block for the past few months, and that will likely only increase after the expected lowering of the salary cap. 

With new ownership and a clear, unified voice in the way of a central owner, Hawks fans have reason for hope. Now the only question is whether Meruelo's hands-on approach will be for the benefit of the team, and exactly how much change this will bring to the franchise.  

Also notable is the fact that Meruelo becomes the first Hispanic majority owner in the NBA, a sign of the increasing diversity of the ownership in the league, even if it has been slow developing.
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