SBD/Issue 47/Franchises

Texas Not Hold 'Em: Lites Gets New Role With Hicks' Changes

Hicks Shakes Up Stars Front
Office With Executive Changes
Former Stars President Jim Lites, who yesterday stepped down from his position with the team, will "expand his role as the point man" on several projects for Stars and MLB Rangers Owner Tom Hicks and his Hicks Marketing Group, according to Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  Lites will focus on the new stadium for the  English Premier League's Liverpool, of which Hicks is an owner, and for a new $55M minor league hockey arena in Austin that Hicks is trying to build. Lites is also "expected to do more with Hicks' portion of the Glorypark development around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/15).  Jeff Cogen stepped down from his role as President of the Rangers to replace Lites at the Stars, and Hicks indicated that he is "in no hurry to hire" a replacement for Cogen.  MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reported the Rangers' business side will be run by Exec VP/Communications & PR Jim Sundberg, Exec VP/Business Operations Rick McLaughlin, Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Andrew Silverman and CFO Kellie Fischer. Dan Fine will continue to oversee the Rangers' team store in Dallas, Chuck Morgan will still direct in-park entertainment and Hicks Holdings COO Casey Shilts and VP Tom Hicks Jr. will "continue to play major roles in the Rangers' overall operations" (MLB.com, 11/14).

Hull (r) Taking Over Co-GM Role With Stars
CLOUD COVERING: In Ft. Worth, Jennifer Floyd Engel writes the Stars have "a disillusioned and shrinking fan base, apathy from all except diehard precincts, empty [American Airlines Center] seats, playoff disappointments and a mediocre start to this season." But the firing of GM Doug Armstrong and the re-assignment of Lites "absolutely ... begin[s] to clean up" the situation. Engel writes, "Just a guess, but Hicks, like his Stars ticket-buying public, didn't take kindly to Lites' 'we're not dumb, we haven't fallen asleep' letter to Stars season ticket holders. Neither did Stars players" (FT. WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, 11/15). Special Advisor Brett Hull and Assistant GM Les Jackson were named co-GMs to replace Armstrong, and in Calgary, Scott Morrison writes Hicks putting Hull "in a more prominent role gives the distinct public impression the Stars are going in a different -- perhaps bolder -- direction." Morrison: "Add to that a marketer taking over as team president and Hicks has certainly changed the dynamic of his club" (CALGARY SUN, 11/15). SI.com's Allan Muir wrote while Armstrong "was the very definition of stoic, Hull is boisterous, and one of the game's great personalities. If the organization was looking for someone who can capture the attention of a disinterested local media, as well as fire up the faithful, Brett Hull is the ideal candidate" (SI.com, 11/14).

ENGLISH RIFT? In London, James Ducker reported Liverpool has "dismissed suggestions that a rift has developed" between co-Owners Hicks and George Gillet, over funding for their proposed US$823M stadium. Liverpool CEO Rick Parry said, "I have just spent a couple of days with Tom and George. Both of them were in good spirits, working hard together on their future plans for the club" (LONDON TIMES, 11/14).

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