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Report: Meruelo walking away from Coyotes' ownership

Alex Meruelo and Gary Bettman Arizona Coyotes Alex Meruelo and Gary Bettman - The Canadian Press

It appears that Alex Meruelo is walking away from the ownership group of the Arizona Coyotes.

Sources tell Craig Morgan and PHNX Sports that a week after the team's plan to purchase land in Phoenix fell through, Meruelo and ownership addressed Coyotes staff on Monday and told them they have no plans to pursue further arena options.

A 110-acre tract of land in North Phoenix had been targeted by Meruelo in hopes of ending the Coyotes' long-running bid to find a permanent home. When the auction for the land appraised at $68.5 million was pushed back until this summer, Meruelo followed the advice of the NHL and opted to sell the franchise to Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith in April.

The Smiths moved the franchise to Salt Lake City, renaming it the Utah Hockey Club. Meruelo retained the Coyotes’ name, logo and trademark with plans to resurrect the team as an expansion franchise if a new arena is built within five years.

With that land auction now cancelled, the future of the team has been in doubt.

- with files from the Canadian Press