It’s over. Finally, mercifully, and long since it should have been, it’s over. The Atlanta Hawks have their ownership situation resolved. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who secured the exclusive interview this weekend:
Meruelo (pronounced mur-rel-o) said some members of the Spirit group will maintain minority ownership positions but that he will own more than 50 percent and control ownership decisions. He would not be more specific about the size of his stake and would not divulge the price he has agreed to pay for it.
But he said, “I will be in complete control of the team.”
Meruelo will become the first Hispanic majority owner in the NBA, another sign of the diversity that exists within the league, even if progress has been slow-going. Meruelo won’t become official owner until the Board of Governors approves him, and considering that it seems like getting them in the room is pulling teeth at this point, there’s no telling when that will be in the midst of a lockout. But when he is approved, Meruelo has pledged a hands-on approach, which can be good or bad, but it’s what the Hawks need at this point.
The sale will bring resolution to a conflict that’s dragged on for years within the Hawks ownership group which fractured irrevocably. It’s honestly been a miracle that they were able to re-sign Joe Johnson to that deal everyone thinks was moronic, considering their dysfunction. With one owner, hopefully they’ll be able to get some leadership going forward in terms of a crowded cap situation and a fanbase that seems to become more disillusioned and acerbic towards the team the further they go in the playoffs. For starters, not having half the building rooting for the visiting playoff team would be a great start.
Meruelo owns a pizza chain, then branched out into various interests. He told the AJC that he has no plans to relocate the team, a valid concern based off of Meruelo’s Los Angeles roots.