Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dallas and Texas Stars Press Conference Highlights Excellent Relationship Between NHL, AHL Clubs

The press conference for the Dallas Stars purchase of the Texas Stars was today. Dallas ran the show, bringing president Jim Lites to sit on the dais with Texas Stars GM Rick McLaughlin and Cedar Park mayor Matt Powell. The conference and Q&A was just under thirty minutes long and then there were follow-up one-on-one conversations. That being said, I'm going to try to hit the high points through out the conference in a summary format.

Jim Lites said it was always in the long-term vision, from his perspective, to own an AHL affiliate inside the Dallas Stars' television market. Lites had this with Grand Rapids when he was with the Red Wings organization. This is the culmination of that vision he had in 1993.

The overall feel was that this has been a great working relationship from all sides and everyone is very excited about moving forward with deepening the ties between the NHL, AHL and the city. Lites called the Cedar Park Center the perfect AHL venue and even suggested that Houston ought to build a replica to get AHL hockey back into that city. Lites even said that upon his return to Dallas, Valeri Nichushkin commented that the CPC was nicer than any building in the KHL.

Bringing Dallas resources to bear on the front office
It sounds like the wheels have already started to turn on bringing the resources of Dallas to bear on the Texas Stars staff. Brad Alberts, EVP and Chief Revenue Officer for Dallas, was set to spend the afternoon in meetings with Rick McLaughlin and the Texas Stars corporate sponsorship staff.

"The first thing is going to be working with Brad and the contacts Dallas has in the corporate community that are headquartered in Dallas but have a presence here to tap into," said McLaughlin. "Brad is able to get into meetings we aren't able to get into. After this press conference we're going to sit down and start strategizing.

"Even just small things like the resources. Greg came down here and Dallas PR put all this together. This isn't our typical press conference here, so they just have a lot of resources in Dallas that come with being an NHL team that we will take full advantage of."

Lites also mentioned, "We've identified a couple of young people on our staff in Dallas who will be coming down here to augment the Texas Stars staff."

Development around the Cedar Park Center
The purchase also included the land around the CPC. Lites said there have been several days of meetings already with the city, its planners and economic development people working on plans for what to do. He said, "The area is ripe for development and I think you'd start to see action on it in the next twelve months."

Mayor Matt Powell expanded on the point, calling the CPC the anchor for the city's entertainment district, which should feature retail and commercial development, including a Gaglardi hotel. There was also mention of office space that can take advantage of the CPC's large parking lots, which are unoccupied during the day.

Powell also mentioned that the contract for the CPC anticipated a naming rights purchase and stipulated that "Cedar Park" must remain in the name in any case.

Logo and jersey changes
The team doesn't have concepts yet for the jerseys and logos, but Lites did have this to say:

"We don't want the jerseys and look to be identical [to Dallas]. You can assume it's going to have a synergy. Victory green has been big to the rebrand of our hockey franchise. We want Texas Stars to have their own identity, but at the same time we don't want anyone to not know that's our franchise when they see our jerseys."

It sounds like next season will be the new jersey debut.

ECHL purchase as well?
Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi is not looking to acquire an ECHL team to complete the trifecta. He already owns the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL and "has 250 games per year" to watch already.

Further from Lites: "We have a wonderful working relationship with a long-term successful ECHL partner. We're biting off the AHL deal, and that's going to be it for us. It's not ideal from a geographic point of view, but Boise is a nice city and it's been great to grow there. It's been stable for us. I think the stability of Idaho, Cedar Park and Dallas is what we're looking for, so I don't anticipate going there."

Mascot for Texas Stars
Because someone asked, here's the response from Rick McLaughlin: "I've held off on a mascot until it made some sense. Now, we can sit down with Dallas [to talk about it]. To put it in perspective, Dallas launched their mascot this year, so they operated for 21 years without a mascot. This is our sixth season but sure, we'll take a look at it."

6 comments:

  1. Anything about possibly building a practice rink? The Stars would not have to use Northcross when the CPC is unavailable and they could sell ice time to the many kids and adult leagues when not being used by the Stars.

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    1. Dallas is going to concentrate on the Dallas market right now, but it's in the future long-term plans. No timeline though.

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  2. No Mascots! And keep the jerseys the same.

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  3. I don't love the Dallas Stars' shade of green, but I could live with it. BUT NO MASCOT.

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    1. Why the mascot hate? Kids love it, and it's not like the CPC is packed with 6000 each night. Removing the parking fee was nice, why not try other things to fill the place/

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  4. They need a practice rink / skate center IMO to be a "legit" part of the community.

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