Washington – Starting on Monday, the NBA will have its first Latino team owner after the league approves the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to Cuban-American businessman Alex Meruelo.
Meruelo confirmed on Sunday to The Atlanta Journal Constitution his purchase of the team and ruled out any plans to move the franchise.
Meruelo has built up a business empire in Southern California in real estate and restaurants with a chain of pizzerias, La Pizza Loca.
His company, the Meruelo Group, also owns a hotel/casino in Reno, Nevada, and a television station in Los Angeles, along with other important investments in different economic sectors.
Meruelo was born in New York and later moved with his family to Southern California.
And though he long maintained his allegiance to the New York Knicks, Jets and Mets, Meruelo now says: "I'm 1,000 percent an Atlanta Hawks fan."
The Hawks' new owner said he had been discrete with everything pertaining to the possible purchase of an NBA team and only when he was sure of what he wanted to do did he make his intentions known.
"I wasn't trying to be coy. I just didn't want my name to circulate until I had something certain," Meruelo told the Journal Constitution.
Meruelo is aware that the Hawks must improve as a team if they want to compete for the title and although they have made the playoffs in recent seasons they will have to make some important changes if they want to go farther.
"I'm a person who doesn't give up," he said. "I want to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta."
Although Meruelo has no plans to leave his home in Los Angeles, he does intend to buy a home in Atlanta so that his family can live in both cities.