Alex Meruelo's Bid To Buy Atlanta Hawks Falls Apart

Alex Meruelo will not receive approval to buy the Atlanta Hawks after all. After some hangups presented during the approval process with the league, the sale has been terminated.

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Atlanta Hawks 'No Longer For Sale' After Alex Meruelo Bid Falls Apart

Los Angeles-based businessman Alex Meruelo will not be buying the Atlanta Hawks after all, after a hitch surrounding financial backing perked up during the NBA approval process. That means that the Atlanta Spirit group, a consortium of area businessmen and widely considered the worst owners in pro sports, will hold on to the Hawks for the forseeable future.

Or maybe forever. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale," [ASG partner Bruce] Levenson said in a statement. "We're excited to remain as owners of the Hawks and are committed to building on our string of four straight playoff appearances."

This could be a bit of posturing to dim the bright lights of desperation that would shine after Meruelo's exit. But if it's not, if Levenson and the Atlanta Spirit really do intend on keeping the franchise hostage, then may God have mercy on Hawks' fans ... because management doesn't intend to.

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Alex Meruelo Bid To Purchase Hawks In Jeopardy, Says Report

Alex Meruelo reached a deal in principle to buy the Atlanta Hawks early this offseason. But it turns out that he may not get the needed stamp of approval from the NBA, which is skeptical he has the funds to effectively operate the franchise, reports ESPN's Marc Stein.

Meruelo, who owns the La Pizza Loco chain, agreed to buy the team from the Atlanta Spirit group for an unspecific amount in August. Even then, Forbes was skeptical of the deal, reporting that the Spirit group would be financing part of the deal and that there was actually very little (if any) cash changing hands. Essentially, Meruelo would be taking on the Spirit's debt.

In a statement to ESPN, Meruelo assuaged concerns that he doesn't have the financial wherewithal to run the Hawks in a "first-class manner."

The NBA rarely denies purchasers who reach an agreement in principle with franchise owners. In fact, the NBA has approved all six bids that have come before it within the past six years.

The Atlanta Spirit group is a failed consortium of local businessmen who have bickered over the direction of the franchise for years, and are considered to be the worst ownership situation in sports, which is really something when you consider what the L.A. Clippers and L.A. Dodgers have gone through.

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Alex Mereulo Says He's Focused On Winning Championship As Atlanta Hawks' New Owner

Alex Meruelo, the California-based businessman who has purchased the Atlanta Hawks, met the media on Monday for a brief afternoon news conference. While he didn't get into the particulars of buying the team and where he sees the roster and management structure going in the coming months and years -- on account of not yet being approved by the NBA and being under the league's lockout communication spell -- he did make one thing clear over and over: he wants to bring a championship to the ATL.

"I will never stop trying to win a championship for Atlanta," Meruelo said, while wearing a red Hawks hat.

Meruelo said he first registered interest in the Hawks six or seven months ago, but that he couldn't come to an agreement on the price with the Atlanta Spirit group. The Spirit then entered exclusive negotiations with a bidder, but that fell apart in recent months. At that point, Meruelo came back to the table and worked out an agreement. NBA.com's David Aldridge has reported that the pricetag came in over $300 million, not including substantial debt that Meruelo will assume.

Meruelo said his brief time in Atlanta has been enjoyable, and that he looks forward to monitoring the Hawks up close in coming season.

"That southern hospitality is very true," he said. "I feel it."

On why he went ahead with the purchase despite labor uncertainty and an ongoing lockout of players, Meruelo said he believes in the NBA's future.

"I just see a tremendous amount of opportunity and growth in this sport," he said.

For more on the Hawks, visit Peachtree Hoops and SB Nation Atlanta.

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Alex Meruelo Paid More Than $300 Million For Atlanta Hawks, Per Report

David Aldridge of NBA.com and TNT is the first to report a figure on the sale of the Atlanta Hawks to California businessman Alex Meruelo: Aldridge's source claims a sale price in excess of $300 million for the Hawks and Philips Arena, which doesn't include a good deal of outstanding debt Meruelo will assume. (The Atlanta Spirit group owes a reported $120 million bonds on Philips; that debt is repaid with a portion of arena revenue.) Depending on how Philips, a 12-year-old building with a strong reputation in terms of condition and amenities, is valued, that appears to be a hefty pricetag for a mid-rung team with historically iffy attendance.

The Atlanta Spirit group bought the Hawks for $208 million in 2004.

Recent sales of NBA franchises have been mixed in terms of prices. The Golden State Warriors went for a record $450 million, while the Charlotte Bobcats were bought by Michael Jordan for less than $300 million. The Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers were also reported to come in under Forbes valuations.

Meruelo has insisted he will not relocated the Hawks, and doing so would prove mighty expensive regardless.

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