The Atlanta Hawks will not be sold to California developer and pizza chain owner Alex Meruelo.
In fact, the NBA team is no longer on the market.
The Hawks’ ownership group, headed by Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon Jr., said Friday that the agreement for Meruelo to buy the team had been mutually terminated by both sides. Just last week, there were reports the NBA was delaying approval of sale because of concerns about Meruelo’s finances, though he insisted he had enough money to purchase the team and run it in a first-class manner.
Meruelo, the son of Cuban immigrants, was poised to become the NBA’s first Hispanic team owner and acquire operating rights to Philips Arena, with Levenson and Gearon remaining in a minority role.
Instead, the group known as Atlanta Spirit will remain in charge of the team it has owned since 2004, when it acquired the Hawks and the NHL Thrashers from Time Warner. The group stepped in after a proposed deal with Dallas businessman David McDavid fell through.
“The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale,” Levenson said in a statement issued by the Hawks. “We’re excited to remain as owners of the Hawks and are committed to building on our string of four straight playoff appearances.”
— Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press