The wackiness surrounding the Atlanta Spirit group, and the Atlanta Hawks as well as their home Phillips Arena is finally at and end. Atlanta sports fans can rejoice as their city will not be losing another pro sports franchise. The Hawks will indeed stay in Hotlanta after new majority owner Alex Meruelo is approved by the NBA. Meruelo will become the first Hispanic owner of an NBA franchise, and will surely do a better job running the Hawks than the disjointed Atlanta Spirit group.
Meruelo heads the Meruelo group, a Real Estate company that is well invested in everything from Pizza Restaurants, to a Spanish language TV station based in Los Angeles, to a casino, and lots of stuff in between. He is a Hispanic and the fact that he will be the first person of that particular heritage to own a NBA franchise is very important to him. Adding a little flavor to the mix Mercuelo is a Cuban-American. He is also known as the California Pizza King. Interestingly enough he joins a long line of pizza magnates to own sports franchises.
This is very good news for the Hawks, and their fans. The Atlanta Spirit group was not committed to winning, overly concerned about cutting costs, and distracted by suing each other. There were some 13 members of the group, and the only negative I find in all of this is that some of them will retain a minority ownership stake in the club.
Looking at the broader picture, I think this sale weakens the NBA owner’s claims that the NBA business model is completely broken. Here is a guy, who has been very successful in business, willing to invest while the league is currently locking out the players. Hopefully he will help bring the NBA back, and build the Hawks into a championship contender.