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The Official Site of the Dallas Stars

2010 Casino Night a record-setting success again

by John Tranchina / Dallas Stars

It is only fitting that the final major Dallas Stars Foundation fund-raising event overseen by longtime Executive Director Carla Rosenberg was the most successful one ever.

The 12th Annual Park Place Dealerships/Dallas Stars Casino Night was a tremendous success on two levels. One, it raised over $200,000 for the Foundation,  a record amount, which will benefit various local children’s charities, and two, because the incredibly entertaining evening was enjoyed by 500-plus Stars fans who attended on Tuesday night.

“This is our marquee fund-raiser event of the year,” said Rosenberg, who announced she would soon be vacating her position.  “Especially this season, where we’ve consolidated the events, and we’ve pushed this up forward because of the Winter Olympics, it’s a great kick-off to 2010 and get some good momentum going before we go on the break. And we have a terrific turn-out, the best to date. We’re super-excited, our fans are very excited to be here.” 

Attendees had the chance to mingle with Stars players and management in a fun party setting with various casino tables featuring black jack (with the Stars acting as dealers), Texas Hold ‘Em, craps and roulette. Many brought jerseys or pucks for players to autograph or just had their pictures taken with their favorite player.

There was also the outstanding food catered by Dallas Chop House, a well-stocked open bar featuring wines by Wente, and many other attractions, all in the elegant setting of the Park Place Porsche dealership on Lemmon Avenue in Dallas.

There were many outstanding items up for auction, including one-of-a-kind experiences that were highly-sought after. There was a chance to buy Stars tickets and add an extra prize with a pull of the slot machine handle and luxurious Porsche cars to sit in and check out. There were the special green-tinted apple martinis they called ‘Startinis’ that were poured through a large, beautiful ice sculpture. 

And then the delicious desserts provided by Wendy Krispin, highly recommended by Stars forward Toby Petersen and his wife Alexa, that struck many visitors speechless.

As thrilling as it is for the fans to not only get autographs or be dealt cards but to have the opportunity to hold actual conversations with their heroes, the players had a great time, too, and the ones that have been here for a while always look forward to it.

“This event’s a lot of fun,” noted on-ice agitator/off-ice good guy Steve Ott. “There’s no other event where you can have a little party with the fans. They enjoy the company, they enjoy the gambling side, the atmosphere - everything is kind of all in one with this event.  Also supporting the great cause of the charity, it all adds up to a helluvan event and I personally enjoy it more than any event that we do. It makes it easy, to have the great fans that we have here, as well.”

“All the charities, the hospital visits, they’re kind of just in-and-out real quick,” added captain Brenden Morrow, “but this one, you get to mingle, you get to get up close and personal with the fans for three or four hours, so it’s nice to talk to them and see them on that level.”

Petersen pointed out that he received some interesting feedback from fans that he spoke with.

“Talking to some of these people, you get some interesting perspectives on this team and individuals and on myself, things that I would never think about,” said Petersen while still savoring the awesome bon bons. “Our routine tends to get a little monotonous, where you go to practice, go home, rest, play a game, all that type of stuff, so it’s a nice break for all the players. And it’s good to see everyone coming out and donating lots of money to a great cause, so it’s just a pleasure to be around this environment.”

And it’s not just the players that draw the attention of the Stars fans. Award-winning TV and radio announcers Ralph Strangis and Daryl ‘Razor’ Reaugh were also popular fellows, and the duo were also very entertaining emceeing the live auction at the end of the night. 

“I think it’s our best event in terms of the ability for our fans and some of our best fans to come out and be this close to the players and all of us,” Strangis said. “People can rub elbows and play cards with them, and it’s a real loose environment. There’s good food and there’s good people. And it’s real good fun to come to Park Place - the Park Place people are the best and every year we move from dealership to dealership and they’re just terrific and that’s a big part of things.” 

Indeed, the partnership between the Stars Foundation and Park Place Dealerships has been in place for each year of the event and it has been a very fruitful relationship for both entities. 

“They’ve been great, we’ve been doing it 12 years with them and this year, we decided to go on the Porsche side of the dealership, which is a great space,” Rosenberg said. “They’ve tented in the area and they’ve been so accommodating. They gave up their service drive for us to be able to do this.”

“We’ve been sponsoring the Stars Casino Night for as long as I can remember,” added Rob Sumner, Director of Marketing for Park Place Dealerships, who acknowledged that the dealership’s business was impacted earlier in the day due to the preparations. “It’s just a great event for us because it brings such a passionate group of people into our dealership, and it’s just a great way for us to give back to the community and all the organizations that the Stars support.  We just love having the fans here. We just have a great relationship with the people from the Foundation team, we work great together and very collaboratively to bring this event together every year. Because we’ve done it together for so long, we really got it down to a well-oiled machine. We try to up the ante a little every year and, with the location that we host it, try to spruce it up a little bit. We both understand what it is we’re trying to achieve and just provides a great night of entertainment and fun and great access to the players. It’s really a great opportunity for us and the fans.” 

The two organizations have worked together to grow the Casino Night event into the most important one of the year for both the Foundation and for Stars fans, with each year topping the previous one. 

“It’s really grown and Casino Night has become the event to attend with the Dallas Stars,” Rosenberg said. “The players enjoy it, the fans enjoy it, the staff enjoys it, and it’s just a fun atmosphere, a great event and it’s all for the foundation.”

“The Dallas Stars Foundation has grown, I know they move (this event) around from year to year,” said Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk, whose wife Tina serves on the Foundation Board of Directors. “If I’m not mistaken, this thing started when I was playing here, I recall doing it a few times. It’s great to see that it’s still a thing that the public enjoys coming out to and it supports a great cause. And the players get into it, too. We try not to put too much on our players’ plates because it’s an Olympic year, but this is one that I know everyone looks forward to.”

While the night out was a nice break from the stresses of the ongoing NHL season, which finds the Stars 10th in the Western Conference standings, four points back of the eighth and final playoff spot, Morrow indicated that the team’s current predicament never really escapes their minds.

“It doesn’t wander too far from it,” said Morrow, who missed the Stars’ 4-3 win over Minnesota on Monday with an upper body injury. “In a battle for the playoffs and when every point is crucial, it’s nice to have an off-day to enjoy it and do your best to take your mind off it, but I’m pretty sure, the 23 guys here, their mind doesn’t wander too far from it.”

Of course, in addition to getting the chance to mingle with the Stars, attendees also had the opportunity to bid on many incredible auction packages, both live and silent. In the live auction at the end of the evening, the highest-grossest item was a trip on the team plane to an away game, including hotel accommodations, tickets to the game and the whole road experience, which two different bidders each paid $12,500 for. 

Other big sellers included the bowling outing for 15 with Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas and leading goal-scorer Loui Eriksson, which went for $6,250, or two tickets to the 2011 Winter Classic Game, with airfare and hotel accommodations, that sold for $4,500. A night out to dinner with top scorer Brad Richards and winger James Neal went for $3,500, all while Ralph and Razor kept everyone entertained with their trademark witty banter.

“I think the thing about an auction, these are hard because there’s so many people and hardly anybody is paying attention,” Strangis said, not giving himself enough credit. “But you really try and remind people that this isn’t a garage sale, don’t look for bargains, this is something you overspend on, and mostly, I think people are good about that. And if you have good items, people will pay for them, so it’s all good.”

They certainly did. Another popular item was the private 1-on-1 on-ice instructional session with Ott, which two different bidders paid $3,500 to experience separately. 

“I do hockey schools back home in Canada and I’m used to being around young kids to help their game and we kind of came up with it,” Otter said of his willingness to donate his time and energy to the cause. “You know what, if it’s an older person or a five-year-old or a two-year-old, we’ve done it all. I just enjoy having the time with them and showing them the Dallas Stars experience, the experience of how lucky we are to play in the NHL and what we do on a regular basis. To bring them in our dressing room and to bring them on our ice as well kind of gives them a little bit of a day in the life of what we do and I’m very grateful for that.” 

The silent auction also featured many amazing and unique items, with the biggest attraction being the guitar signed by every member of the Rolling Stones, which fetched $2,750, while the one-of-a-kind acrylic puck set signed by all 23 Dallas Stars commanded $1,600. 

Other hot items included signed NHL jerseys, with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin’s going for $1,100 and Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby’s selling for $950. There were also signed jerseys available from everyone from Wayne Gretzky to Mike Modano (both Team USA and Minnesota North Stars), as well as stars from other sports like Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton.

Even the players got into the act, as Robidas was spotted leaving with the autographed Raymond Bourque Boston Bruins sweater.

So overall, aided by the folks from Park Place, who did a fabulous job turning a working dealership into an elegant, luxurious casino, the night really was a success on every level.

“For us, it’s such a thrill,” Sumner said. “Most people would never come to a car dealership for a party, it’s not something you think of as fun, but I’d like to think we do a nice job of transforming the location into a really fun, festive location, with tons of bars and the casino and the whole thing. It’s something I think we’re pretty good at, and Park Place really prides itself on providing a first-class experience to our consumers, whether they’re here to purchase a car or for an event, we want to really deliver that same superior experience.” 

Consider it done. It was an appropriate send-off to Rosenberg, who has had such a major impact on the lives of so many in the Metroplex during her five-plus years as Executive Director of the Dallas  Stars Foundation. Good luck, Carla, we’ll miss you.

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