August 18, 2010
(Ed. Note: Couldn't find a photo of Tom Hicks. Yep, that's the ticket ...)
Michael Ozanian of SportsMoney, a Forbes.com blog, reported Wednesday afternoon that Tom Hicks is "very close" to selling the Dallas Stars and his interest in the American Airlines Center "for between $275 million to $300 million." Or one-half of Brad Richards'(notes) annual salary (we kid).
The sale of the Stars tells me two things: creditors of Hicks Sports Group will recoup some $200 million on top of what they will receive from the sale of the Texas Rangers and that despite the troubles of the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators hockey can sell in the right southern market.
Is this a test case of a successful Southern U.S. market or an anomaly because of the team involved? Keep in mind that the deal between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jeff Vinik, which also included their arena, was estimated at $170 million. Then again, the previous owner didn't run the Stars into the ground ...
The Stars have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, but previously established the kind of successful track that cements a fan base in a "non-traditional" market. Think of it this way: A fan that was 6 years old when the Stars relocated to Dallas was 11 when they won the Cup and is now 23. A fan that was 23 back in 1993 is taking his or her own kids to the arena.
Dallas isn't simply the Southern Market That Worked; it's one of the NHL's most successful franchises in the Western Conference over the last 17 years, and one that's been able to cultivate generations of fans who have kept the revenues rolling in.
As we've said countless times: Teams like the Thrashers, Coyotes, Predators and Blue Jackets have had no such luxury, and that's a primary reason their roots always seem so brittle.
As for Dallas, the identity of the new ownership group isn't known at this time, but Mike Heika is digging. ESPN Dallas writes that "it's believed that Calgary oilman Bill Gallacher and Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi are the leading candidates."
TSN opts for the sexier option: "There has been plenty of speculation as to the identity of the buyer including reportedly Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban who previously inquired into the purchase of the Pittsburgh Penguins."