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Texas Stars Sale a Win for All Involved

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Texas Stars have enjoyed a lot of success in their brief history, but the hope is that even better things are ahead now that they’ve been sold to Northland Properties, the parent company of the Dallas Stars.

“We are thrilled to be here,” Dallas Stars president Jim Lites said at a press conference in Cedar Park Thursday. “It was certainly an agenda item for [Stars owner/Northland president] Tom Gaglardi to get full and complete control of the Texas Stars and the Cedar Park Entertainment Center.”

Northland acquired the Texas Stars from Hicks Cedar Park, LLC. The AHL’s Board of Governors approved the sale Wednesday. The newly-created Texas Stars, L.P. will operate the city-owned Cedar Park Center. News of the deal, which was in the works for about a year, became public knowledge in August.

“I think it is important to be on the same page with your AHL club and what your objectives are,” Gaglardi said back in August. “I think you look around the NHL and the best clubs have a full alignment of interests between the NHL program and the AHL clubs.”

The deal is important for both the Dallas Stars and the Texas Stars and significant for the city of Cedar Park, which gets a partner to help develop the property around the Cedar Park Center.

“Cedar Park Center has been an amazing success,” Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell said at Thursday’s press conference. “It is the crown jewel of this city. It is our largest asset, and it’s really changed a lot of perceptions about Cedar Park. We are a home for championship sports and great family entertainment.

“Mr. Gaglardi not only has the interest, but the ability to operate this building and maintain a very high quality event load, including great hockey. He also has the interest and ability to do the commercial development that will be coming around Cedar Park Center.”

Texas has enjoyed a lot of success since coming into the AHL in 2009. It’s made the playoffs four of its first five seasons, been to the Calder Cup Finals twice and, of course, won the Calder Cup last season. About half the players on the current Dallas roster have spent time playing for the Texas Stars.

“There are 30 clubs out there and you’ve got to find a way to win. In the old days before the salary cap, you could buy a winner, but those days are over now,” said Gaglardi. “You have to be better than your peers at drafting and developing, so the AHL club is so important.”

Having the AHL club in Cedar Park offers a lot of advantages. It is just a three-hour drive to Dallas. You can get a flight to most NHL cities from Austin. So moving players between the two teams is usually hassle free.

“The other advantage is that there is somebody from our office always down there watching games,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said. “The players know that they are being watched and being evaluated by the people that are making decisions up here, which is important.”

Considering Texas’ success, a lot probably won’t change. Rick McLaughlin will stay on as Texas Stars president, and a lot of other pieces will stay in place. There will be, however, a greater synergy between the Dallas and Texas business and marketing operations.

“Now we have a direct pipeline to Dallas and all those resources available,” McLaughlin said. “I can speak for our whole staff that we are really excited about that.”

Dallas held a scrimmage in Cedar Park during this past preseason, and you’ll see more events like that down the road.

“There is going to be a presence of the Dallas Stars in Cedar Park every season. We are here. This is our building. This is home for us,” said Lites. “We are going to be looking at every opportunity to broaden and widen our appeal of this franchise and our own throughout the state. We’re Texas’ NHL franchise. We cut across five states. Five NBA markets are covered by Dallas Stars television. Austin/Cedar Park sits right in the middle of that. We want to make sure everybody in this market becomes a Dallas Stars fan.”

The look of the two teams will be more in sync in the future as well, including the likelihood that Texas will switch to a Victory Green color scheme.

“We don’t want the jerseys and the look to be identical. We are still working on that, and we are still not sure when that is going to occur,” Lites said. “You can assume there is going to be a closer synergy between the two looks, the Dallas Stars look and the Texas Stars look. We want to make everybody buy another jersey (laughter). We don’t want you to get away with just buying one. Victory Green has been really important to the rebranding of our franchise, and we think it looks great.”

And with the two franchises and the city of Cedar Park on the same page on many fronts, everyone involved sees it as a victory.

“This is an exciting day,” Lites said. “One of the most exciting prospects [when Tom Gaglardi became owner of the Dallas Stars] was the ability of our enterprise to own and control our American Hockey League franchise in a city and building as dynamic as this one is and has become.”

And with the sale of the Texas Stars sale complete, that mission has been accomplished.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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