Alex Meruelo’s specialty as a businessman has been to resurrect struggling companies. His billion-dollar portfolio includes casinos, TV and radio stations, food services, real estate, hospitality, construction and engineering.
Meruelo’s latest acquisition could be one of his most challenging: turning the Arizona Coyotes into consistent winners while making the franchise profitable.
“Hockey is a sport, but it’s also a business,” Meruelo said Thursday during his introductory news conference. “I’ve had a lot of experience building businesses and turning them around. For 40 years I’ve been doing this. I’ve had a lot of success and I have a great team.”
Meruelo officially took over as Arizona’s majority owner this week after completing the transaction with Andrew Barroway, who will still hold a minority stake in the team.
Meruelo will serve as the Coyotes’ chairman and governor after becoming the first Hispanic majority owner of an NHL team. Meruelo made part of his opening remarks in Spanish and answered a question from a Spanish speaking reporter in Spanish during his news conference.
The Coyotes have not made the playoffs the past seven seasons, but have a young, talented roster and just missed the post-season last year.
“I’m very committed to this state, to the Valley, to the fans of Arizona, to the team of Arizona and residents of Arizona,” Meruelo said. “I’m committed to staying here and will do everything in my heart and hard work to make sure to make it viable.”
“Every kid wants to grow up and play for a sports team or own a sports team,” Meruelo said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was six, eight years old — knowing it would be very difficult — that I would succeed and here I am. I want to tell everybody: a Hispanic kid from Brooklyn, New York, so if I can do it, anyone can do it.”