Coyotes sold to billionaire, Gary Bettman celebrates with arena demand and move threat

The NHL approved a new billionaire to buy a majority stake in the Arizona Coyotes from their old not-billionaire owner, and league commissioner Gary Bettman naturally cited this as a reason why somebody should get the new billionaire guy a new arena:

“I think (Meruelo) is committed to trying to get a new arena in the right location and making it work,” Bettman said. “He is a person of substantial means, and he is very good, if you look at his career, in turning around businesses and making them successful. I think this is an extraordinarily positive step for the Coyotes and their fans in Arizona.”

Alex Meruelo has substantial means! It is entirely possible, of course, that Bettman means that Meruelo has lots of money and will “try to get a new arena” by looking deep within his own bank account and then paying for one, but also this is Gary Bettman so of course that’s not what he means.

Bettman added that while he didn’t want to threaten that the Coyotes would leave Arizona without a new arena, that’s exactly what he was saying:

“I’d rather not go there, because I’m not going to issue threats,” Bettman said. ”(Meruelo) has told us, including in his interview with the executive committee, that he very much likes Arizona. He wants to make it work there, and he’s going to try very hard for that to be the case. Obviously, the club is not viable long-term in Glendale, but hopefully we don’t get to that point.”

The Associated Press then filled out its article on Bettman’s crafted public statement by citing the Coyotes’ low attendance and all the places they could move to if they wanted. There’s a reason why I have a category titled “the sports-media complex.”

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10 comments on “Coyotes sold to billionaire, Gary Bettman celebrates with arena demand and move threat

  1. This is the same guy who tried to buy the Atlanta Hawks in 2011, right after the Thrashers were sold. He could have gotten the Thrashers for next to nothing, but he said he wasn’t interested. So I am curious why he is suddenly interested in a hockey team. Also, didn’t his Hawks purchase fall apart over his finances? Did he get substantially richer over the last 8 years?

    1. We do know from past experience that the NHL is, uh, less diligent about vetting potential owners than the NBA. So it’s always possible Meruelo is figuring, “Oh fine, I’ll buy an NHL team, they won’t look too hard at my bank balance.”

      1. In fairness to Bettman, I believe they do make sure they spend more than $750 on vetting potential owners these days (Regis, cough, Spano, cough, McNall, cough, Ice Edge, cough et al).

  2. Is is really a “threat” if nobody gives a damn whether you stay or go? There might be dozens of people upset if the Coyotes depart, but probably an equal number who would be happy to see the drama brought to a peaceful end without further damage to the public fisc.

    1. I don’t know what the closest ascii character for a thumbs up is, but you just got one Dave.

  3. “… I think this is an extraordinarily positive step for the Coyotes and their fans in Arizona…”

    Hmmn. You know, I think I’ve heard Bettman say that before.

    Many times.

  4. Ever notice how “substantial means” never means substantial enough to pay for their own damn building?

  5. Bettman is the best for lulling toy millionaires. The awakening will be difficult one day when he will realize that he was made himself too. :)

  6. I Think Alex Meruelo Could Get The Arizona Coyotes For About $300 Million

    “Let me start by predicting the “headline price” for the Arizona Coyotes will likely be somewhere between $400 million to $450 million. That is likely what will be reported in much of the media if and when the deal closes. But the enterprise value, that is the true sale price, is I believe going to be much closer to $300 million.”

    1. What is the ‘enterprise value’ of a business that loses $30m annually on standalone operations (IE: before the NHL revenue sharing plan – which the Coyotes do not qualify for under the actual rules, but get anyway because Bettman – kicks in)?

      If the franchise is portable, maybe you can argue it’s worth something. But in situ?

      In 23 years, no-one has come close to making money with this franchise (even with the $18m annual NHL subsidy included). Not close.

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