Meruelo won't buy Atlanta Hawks

Downey businessman Alex Meruelo will not be purchasing the Atlanta Hawks after all, following reports that the NBA was "concerned" about Meruelo's finances.League officials would not comment on why the deal broke down, citing a confidentiality clause, but in a statement Meruelo indicated ongoing labor negotiations between players and owners played a role. "Basketball is my passion, but professional basketball is a business. Although all parties negotiated in good faith, we were not able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement on some key issues given the current uncertainty surrounding the labor issue," Meruelo said. "As a result, we mutually decided to terminate the deal effective immediately." Meruelo, 48, would have become the first Hispanic owner of an NBA franchise. He made his fortune by founding the La Pizza Loca chain, and owns a "vast empire" that includes construction companies, a bank and a venture capital fund, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Meruelo indicated that he still hopes to own an NBA team in the future. "I have great respect for the owners of the Hawks and the league and remain committed to fulfilling my dream of owning an NBA team," he said in the statement. "I look forward to that opportunity in the future."