Report: Hawks to Be Sold to California Developer Alex Meruelo, Remain in Atlanta


Alex Meruelo, a California developer and pizza chain owner, will purchase the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and their home venue Philips Arena, according to The Associated Press.

Meruelo, who founded La Pizza Loca and who heads the California-based investment firm The Meruelo Group, is expected to gain more than 50 percent control of the franchise as a result of the deal, which will be voted on by the NBA on Monday.

Unlike the NHL's Thrashers – who were sold by the same Atlanta Spirit ownership group that is now selling the Hawks — there is no move expected for the Hawks, who have played in Atlanta since 1968.

The 48-year-old Meruelo, who would be the NBA's first Hispanic owner, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Sunday he "has absolutely no plans" to move the team out of Atlanta.

"I want to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta," Meruelo told the paper.

Bruce Levenson, the lead owner of the Atlanta Spirit group that is negotiating the sale with Meruelo, declined to comment on the matter, telling the AJC in an email, "This is Alex's time, and as such I won't be commenting."

Meruelo said he plans to move from his Los Angeles suburb to Atlanta so that he can be fully involved in day-to-day team operations, a staple of his business approach.

"If you look at my previous … business ventures, I'm very hands-on, and this will be no different," he said.

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