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Stars are ‘way less unprofitable’ than they used to be

Aug 8, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

Ducks Stars Hockey AP

There’s no question the Dallas Stars are on their way back to respectability when it comes to their on-ice performance. After five straight missed postseasons, they finally made it back to the playoffs in 2013-14. And with Jason Spezza on board for 2014-15, some believe they’ve become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

Off the ice, however, the hockey team still has a ways to go. The Stars ranked 28th in attendance last season, averaging just 14,658 fans at the American Airlines Center. Only the Panthers (14,177) and Coyotes (13,775) drew fewer per game. And despite the return to the postseason, Stars’ playoff tickets weren’t exactly a hot commodity, either.

That said, team president Jim Lites is confident that the business, like the on-ice performance, is trending in the right direction.

“It doesn’t mean we’re making money yet in the sense that are we profitable,” Lites said, per Defending Big D. “I would say this. We’re way less unprofitable than we used to be, and [owner Tom Gaglardi] is very supportive of what we do and very understanding and appreciative of the fans.”

From SportsBusiness Daily:

Lites said that the team is 80% of the way to selling out the arena’s lower bowl on a nightly basis. The team has a full season-ticket base of 9,000 heading into this season, up from 6,000 when Gaglardi took over. Lites added that the goal is to finish ’14-15 with that number reaching an “aggressive” figure of 12,000. He also noted that the team has sold more new season-ticket packages this offseason than any NHL franchise except for the Avalanche, which he attributed to the team’s strong performance last season.

It goes without saying that missing the postseason for a long stretch and going bankrupt aren’t the best ways to market a sports team. It was always going to be a challenge to get people excited about the NHL again in Dallas, a non-traditional hockey market with no shortage of sports competition.

The Stars seem to be going about it the right way, though. They hired a capable general manager in Jim Nill. They’re building the team around a pair of marketable young stars in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. They’re patiently developing prospects in the AHL. And on top of the fact they’re starting to win again, they’re doing it while playing an entertaining style.

“I think we’re putting hockey back on the map here. I think Dallas is a great hockey town,” Nill said recently. “You look back to when they were in their heydays, when they won the Cup and that Dallas was as good a city anywhere in the world for hockey, and I think we’re getting back there … I think there are going to be some special things happening here.”

Related:

Huzzah, the Dallas Stars are no longer bankrupt

  1. rmccleary97 - Aug 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    “It was always going to be a challenge to get people excited about the NHL again in Dallas, a non-traditional hockey market with no shortage of sports competition.”

    Weird … the Stars had all kinds of buzz and support from about 1994-2004. It was the last few years when Tom Hicks had major financial issues and had to sell and the team went squarely into the toilet that support waned. Unless we’re talking about a handful of places like Montreal, Toronto or the Rangers, building a fan base takes time; chasing it off and ending up with half-empty seats can be done pretty quickly, though.

    • bullwinkle88 - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      Please add Buffalo to that “handful of places”. Last month we had more people turn out for a prospects scrimmage than some cities have for an NHL game! And we are the worst team in the league!!!

      • patthehockeyfan - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:37 PM

        I think Buffalo lead the TV ratings (in their market size?) for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals. True fans of the sport! My hat’s off to them.

  2. gbatap - Aug 8, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    The playoff excitement will hopefully carry into the regular season. Was the loudest and craziest atmosphere of any arena in the playoffs. It will all depend on whether or not the team is winning.

  3. moxdawg4 - Aug 9, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Shouldn’t have left Minnesota.

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