The new majority owner of the Arizona Coyotes said he is determined to keep the team in Arizona but also wants to expand the team’s fan base to reflect the state’s diversity.
Alex Meruelo, the first Hispanic majority owner in NHL history, met the media for the first time Thursday after purchasing controlling interest in the team from Andrew Barroway.
Meruelo is the son of accountants who left Cuba following the Cuban Revolution. He went on to find success in banking, real estate and media. While in high school in Southern California, he took over the tuxedo-rental business next to his parents’ bridal shop, saved money and bought land in Riverside that he would later sell to Walmart, he told the Los Angeles Times, which made him a millionaire in his early 20s.
“I’m a Hispanic kid born in Brooklyn, New York,” he said Thursday at Gila River Arena. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
Meruelo hopes to change the look of the Coyotes fan base and tap into a Phoenix metropolitan community that is 42.5 percent Hispanic or Latino, according to a U.S. Census report from 2018.
“We haven’t done a good job of reaching out to the Hispanic community,” Coyotes President and CEO Ahron Cohen said.
Addressing “financial sustainability in Arizona” is also a priority for Meruelo. The organization’s struggles to find solid economic footing have long led to speculation about the team moving. His plan is “to keep the team here,” he said, and is looking at the overall picture of the organization, which could including relocating to a new arena.