SBD/October 11, 2013/Franchises

Stars Beginning To Find Stability Under Tom Gaglardi's Ownership

Gaglardi was reluctant to be in the spotlight in Dallas, where owners are iconoclasts
The Stars are seeing a "renewed vigour" in their business operations, and team officials are "reaching for a renaissance," according to David Ebner of the GLOBE & MAIL. Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi said, "I like where we sit. The business of the Dallas Stars dug quite a hole. We’re well on our way to getting it fixed." Ebner reported attendance jumped 20% last year from the "terrible" '11-12 season, and the club has the "equivalent of 7,000 season-ticket holders, up from 6,000" in early '13. When Gaglardi arrived there "were fewer than 5,000 season-ticket holders." The Stars' first two home games "did not sell out but merchandise sales each night, buoyed by new jerseys," exceeded $100,000 plus. A "richer television deal is near-ready, and would kick in next season." The Stars made around $12M a year from their current Fox Sports contract, "a figure that is set eclipse" $20M. Gaglardi "before the changes last summer initially reached into the past." The "first gambit was to reinstall Jim Lites as club president and other hires included Mike Modano ... as a face of the franchise." Gaglardi also extended welcomes to "big business names in Dallas, creating an ownership-advisory group of some of the city’s prominent business people to help spread the word." Connections from the board have "helped the Stars sell some discount tickets to families to repopulate the stands and stoke long-term interest." Meanwhile, Lites has "marketed Gaglardi," pushing the "reluctant owner into the spotlight in a city where sports owners are typically iconoclasts," like the Cowboys' Jerry Jones and the Mavericks' Mark Cuban (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/10).

TIP OF THE CAP: In Dallas, Mike Heika noted the Stars this summer added $8.2M to their payroll and "climbed to within" $2.2M of the NHL’s $64.3M salary cap. The top 24 teams in the league are within $4M of the cap, which means "trades have to be salary for salary, and teams have to get creative if they want to make deals." Stars GM Jim Nill said, "It’s a concern, but teams will have to find a way around it." Heika reported Nill is "watching every penny he spends, and said he has daily meetings with the front office to see where savings can be made." If that means "operating with less than 23 players, he’ll do it." If it means "sending a player to the AHL instead of keeping an extra body, he’ll do that too" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/10).
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