SBD/Issue 102/Franchises

Hicks Loaned $85M To Help HSG With Debt, Now Must Monetize Clubs

Hicks Has Retained Galatioto
To Study Sale Of The Stars
Stars Owner Tom Hicks yesterday revealed that he lent $85M of his "own money to Hicks Sports Group over a two-year period that ended March 31, 2009, and that the Stars must operate under a tight budget if they want to be viable going forward," according to Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Hicks addressed the media yesterday for the first time since HSG announced it would look into selling the NHL team, and he said the holding group "took on too much debt because teams spent more than the budget allowed." Hicks said that he "now has to monetize the sports assets," including selling the MLB Rangers, "to pay down the debt." He noted that while Galatioto Sports Partners "will broker the sale, he and HSG will make all of the financial decisions." Hicks said that he has "not been made aware of any potential suitors and does not know if he or his family will retain any role in future ownership." Stars President Jeff Cogen pointed out that the team "would remain in Dallas no matter who buys it." Cogen: "The Dallas Stars aren't going anywhere. We are in the fourth-largest market in the country. ... We have a non-relocation agreement with American Airlines Center, and we're not going anywhere." Hicks noted that the Stars were "No. 1 in the NHL in revenue produced in the arena in 2002 after moving" into American Airlines Center, but are just 19th this season. Cogen said, "Revenue streams have dropped materially. The ability to sell the highest-priced tickets is more difficult. Our holes are in the most expensive seats, and I have convinced the boss that we need to roll back those prices. We'll take a step back to grow in the long term, which is the way we built this franchise." Hicks added, "Every team south of Pennsylvania has realized that they can't go to the cap. If they do, they'll lose money" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/9).

PARTING SHOTS: Hicks yesterday also said that a sale of the Stars "could be completed within six months." He indicated that the Stars will "reduce ticket prices next season for lower-bowl seats between the blue lines," and stressed that the team "can be successfully under its current budget, and fans shouldn't expect a new owner to increase the payroll." Meanwhile, Hicks said that the timeline for the completion of the Rangers sale "is around Opening Day, assuming HSG's 40 lenders and Major League Baseball approve the deal." Hicks: "We wanted to do the Rangers first and then understand how much needed to be done with the Stars." He also reiterated that his investment in EPL club Liverpool is "unrelated to the Stars or Rangers" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 2/8).

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