DALLAS -- Dr. Terry Flowers, the headmaster at St. Philip's School, looks at the parcel of land where a multisport complex will soon be built. He does not see its checkered past, but its limitless future.
That is the optimism delivered by the NHL and the Dallas Stars in the legacy project for the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
The Dallas Stars Foundation pledged $2 million in April to build a multi-purpose venue for the St. Philip's School & Community Center. On Monday, the League donated a ball hockey court to sit alongside the new complex.
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"To have these properties that were full of vices for the community to become sources of vitality is a huge, huge sense of encouragement for not only St. Philip's, but for the community to see this type of transformation," said Dr. Flowers, who has been with the school since 1983.
The legacy announcement was celebrated at an event Monday at the school, located less than two miles from Cotton Bowl Stadium, where the Stars will host the Nashville Predators on Wednesday (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
As an added gift, 500 students and their family members were given tickets to the Winter Classic.
The South Dallas private school serves 240 students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Its Community Center serves more than 3,000 kids and their families each year.
Current Stars players Anton Khudobin, Jason Dickinson, Denis Gurianov and Jamie Oleksiak, as well as alumni, greeted more than 60 children from the school in the gymnasium Monday, taking part with them in various activities, including face-painting, snowflake craft-making and cookie-decorating.
There was also a quick question-and answer session when students asked the players questions, including their favorite foods and school subjects.
But the focal point was the makeshift ball-hockey rink at the far end of the gym, which was hosting a raucous game with participants ranging in age from 4 to 54 and in skill levels from first-timer to current professional to retired Stanley Cup winner. Even Stars mascot Victor E Green got in on the action, taking a couple of shifts.
It was a sneak peek of what will be happening in a short time when the ball hockey court is built across the street from the school.
"I think it is going to be a powerful legacy for many, many years to come," said Brian Jennings, the NHL Chief Brand Officer and Executive Vice President. "You think about all the uses that the building will provide for these kids and for the community and it's pretty amazing."
That was the idea behind the Stars partnering with St. Philip's, according to Marty Turco, who is president of the Stars Foundation. The Stars wanted to make a tangible impact with a community that is finding its way.
"We see the value in being a good corporate citizen and the Winter Classic, to our benefit, led us here," said Turco, who played goalie for the Stars from 2001 to 2010 and has been president of the foundation since 2018. "We just know that being here today remind us that we have really good teammates in Dr. Flowers and his students and staff, the city of Dallas and our fans. It's genuine love and admiration. It was an easy decision for us. This is bigger than all of us.
"We're here to be a good partner, to showcase the amazing things they are doing, and we know here that we have a partner that we believe in, can trust and lean on and know that it is going be a great partnership for years to come."
The partnership -- and the future it promises -- is already paying dividends, according to Dr. Flowers. He expects the benefits to grow exponentially when the sports complex is finished.
"We say that a child can't be what a child can't see," Dr. Flowers said. "Having these opportunities, even having a kid have the opportunity to talk to a player who is from Canada or Russia or whatever, even that experience in itself brings about opportunities that we can't imagine as adults. But it has an impact.
"The kids having the actual opportunity to physically hold a hockey stick, as opposed to the traditional baseball bat or basketball, will bring about some inspiration that gives kids the opportunity to begin to learn more about the sport and maybe even participate in the sport."