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Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo reportedly gives up his pursuit of an NHL arena

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According to PHNX Sports, Alex Meruelo is giving up his search for an arena and his hopes of bringing the NHL back to the Phoenix area.

According to reporter Craig Morgan, citing “several” unnamed sources, Meruelo spoke with Arizona Coyotes staff on Monday and told staff he had no plans to pursue any further arena options.

The arena plan was based on a search for a piece of state land, but the Arizona State Land Department canceled its auction, citing concerns about land use and doubts about the Coyotes' preparation.

After Meruelo sold the Coyotes' assets to a Utah investor in April because he was unable to find a permanent site in Phoenix, Meruelo and the NHL agreed to a deal that would have given him an expansion team if he could build a suitable arena within five years. But that deal was exclusive to Meruelo and specifically did not provide for the same terms if he gave up his position as owner, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in April.

The contract only allowed Meruelo to bring in partners for a maximum of 20 percent of the project, meaning he had to handle the lion's share alone.

Bettman said at the time that he did not want to speculate on what would happen if Meruelo could not complete the deal.

The auction cancellation was likely the final nail in the coffin of Meruelo's tenure as the team's owner. The land administration abruptly canceled the auction on June 21, less than a week before it was scheduled to take place. Land administration officials said there had been discussions with the team's owners in the weeks prior that the auction might be canceled, but the team's leadership was officially notified of the cancellation on Friday, the same day it was announced to the public.

Anna Harden

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