Coyotes Target Hispanic Market Expansion

When Alex Meruelo became the owner of the Arizona Coyotes this past summer it became clear that the team was on a new course. This was not only a breakthrough for the Coyotes but for the entire NHL as Meruelo became the first Hispanic majority ownerin the league. It’s amazing that in 2019 that there is a lack of diversity in the front office of professional sports, but the Coyotes have changed that conversation. This lack of diversity is especially true in the NHL where it seems like there is a lack of diversity both on the ice and in the front offices of clubs.

“We had our guy that was going to create a new day for this franchise, we had our guy that was going to move us forward”

Ahron Cohen, Arizona Coyotes President and CEO

A New Vision

As the son of Cuban immigrants, Meruelo has worked extremely hard to achieve success, and although he has pursued many successful business ventures in his life, sports have always held a special place, “I dreamt of owning a sports team even knowing how difficult the dream was, truly impossible in many cases, but I never stopped. Here today, I’m the proud owner of the Arizona Coyotes and the first Hispanic owner, which makes it even more special.”

Alex Meruelo Arizona Coyotes
Alex Meruelo, owner of Arizona Coyotes, accompanied by his wife, Liset, stop for photos during an exclusive unveiling event of his new SAHARA Las Vegas resort. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for SAHARA Las Vegas)

With new ownership comes a new for the future of the Coyotes, this vision is echoed by President and CEO Ahron Cohen and President of Hockey Operations John Chayka. There is a shared expectation and commitment to Coyotes fans that each season they will see a strong and winning product on the ice.

“My goal here with the rest of the team, the executives, the players, the coaches: I will not stop, I will not stop until we bring a Stanley Cup to the Valley. That is my goal, my commitment, and hopefully my promise to keep.”

Alex Meruelo, Arizona Coyotes Owner

Reaching New Markets

A key pillar of building this strong franchise in the 2019-20 season is reaching new markets and growing the fan base in Arizona. The Hispanic population represents a large majority of the population in the state, and with the first Hispanic majority owner, the Coyotes are invested in reaching the Hispanic population and cultivating new hockey fans. On Sept. 19 the club launched three social media accounts,all written in the Spanish language.

The ‘Los Yotes’ accounts offer a totally unique and engaging social media experience, they have a VIP feel featuring exclusive video and photo content written and produced for the Spanish speaking fans. Scroll through the ‘Los Yotes’ Instagram or Twitter and you see first hand how dedicated the Coyotes are to reaching the Spanish-speaking fan base and catering the content to promote engagement. The content on these accounts is different than the English accounts and that creates a different viewing exoeirnce.

A Bright Future

Giving Hispanic fans a unique experience is exactly what will keep them coming back for more and that is what the Coyotes are aiming to do. Having an owner who is committed to growing and fostering a diverse fan base is invaluable and Meruelo certainly has the background and expertise to lead them to a bright future. Reaching the Hispanic market is just a piece of his plan to the team’s success, but it certainly could be critical to their growth.

In a region of the country where hockey is not a very popular sport, you have to get creative and figure out how you grow excitement and interest. On Oct. 17, the Coyotes will host “Noche de los Yotes” in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month taking place this month. When the team takes the ice for warm-ups they’ll be wearing “Los Yotes” jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game with all proceeds going to a variety of Hispanic non-profit organizations in Arizona. 

Clayton Keller Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Diversifying the Fan Base

With the growth of Latino populations, especially in more metropolitan areas, other teams are focused on similar initiatives. Clubs such as the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Vegas Golden Knights, and the teams in New York are all in areas with significant Latino populations and are focused on marketing hockey to the Latino fan. However, there is no uniform marketing plan that is utilized across the league and this is a mistake. The Coyotes are leading the way in this respect with a clear targeted plan, and with a Hispanic owner, they have a definite advantage.

Alex Goligoski, Lane Pederson, Hudson Fasching, Jacob Markstrom
Arizona Coyotes defenceman Alex Goligoski, centre Lane Pederson and right wing Hudson Fasching celebrate (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Social media channels and theme nights are a key way to build up interest in hockey in a region where babies aren’t born with hockey sticks in their hands. All of these things give people more reasons to buy into the Coyotes brand. The Coyotes value the community they are a part of and want to celebrate it. Meruelo and the entire front office understand how key Latino fans are to the strength and future of hockey in Arizona. The Coyotes are leading the way to create a more diversified and inclusive fan base in the NHL.