Tag:Tom Hicks
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Gagliardi owns Stars with bankruptcy court OK

By Brian Stubits

The Dallas Stars ownership mess has finally been cleaned up.

The purchase of the team by Vancouver businessman Tom Gagliardi was approved by a bankruptcy court in Delaware on Friday, jumping the final hurdle before the ownership keys could be handed over. And just like that, the Stars are out of debt.

Considering Gagliardi was already approved by the Board of Governors, this wraps up the deal. The official announcement was made by the NHL and Dallas Stars on Friday evening.

Gagliardi takes over a franchise that has gone through some awfully tough days in the past few years after former owner Tom Hicks defaulted on his loans. Since then the NHL looked for a new owner with a plan to get the team out of its debt. They found their man in Gagliardi.

It's not going to be easy for Gagliardi from the start. The Stars have been losing money at a pretty staggering rate in the past few seasons and are projected to lose $31 million this season. But the plan for Gagliardi is to commit to winning again and upgrading the fan experience to try and turn things around. Dallas has shown it is a suitable market for a viable hockey franchise in the past.

With the core of players the Stars have, Gagliardi gets a nice head-start on one of those objectives -- the winning. The Stars have been one of the surprises of the early season, jumping out to a very fast start before finally hitting a bump in the road in the last week.

The fan equation might be a bit tougher. Despite the winning start, the Stars have really struggled to attract people to their games. Taking out the home opener and the largest crowd the Stars have had at home was 11,981 against the Avalanche on Nov. 4.

This is the greatest news to hit Dallas since the second out of the ninth inning in Game 6 of this year's World Series. Stable ownership has come back to Dallas and hopefully the fans will respond. Plus, I assume, the Stars will be able to be buyers at the trade deadline if they so desire with a new-found money source.

Is this akin to Terry Pegula buying the Sabres? Not exactly. Pegula is and has been a fervent fan of the Sabres and is one of the richest owners in hockey (fourth to be exact) who came to the table right away willing to spend to the cap and get the Sabres to the Cup. Gagliardi probably can't attack as quick as Pegula did with the few obstacles he's facing.

Plus, there should be no fears of Gagliardi looking to move the franchise; he has ties to the state of Texas. In addition to his mom being from Longview, he has family that lives in the Metroplex, so he's familiar with the lay of the land.

The first move Gagliardi made as the new owner was to hire Jim Lites as the team president, as position Lites held from 1993-2007, minus some time he spent with the Coyotes in 2002.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 3:16 pm
 

'Forbes:' Devils headed right for bankruptcy

By Brian Stubits

New Jersey Devils fans, you might want to study up on the ownership situation in Dallas the past few years, because that could soon be your team's fate, too.

At the beginning of September, the New York Post reported that the Devils controlling owner Jeff Vanderbeek had not paid a loan payment and that bankruptcy was down the road. For their part, the Devils categorically denied the report.

Well, the report is back, this time from a what most would consider a rock-solid source when it comes to the finances in hockey, Mike Ozanian of Forbes magazine.

Yesterday afternoon I tweeted that creditors of the Devils and the Prudential Center were looking to unload the National Hockey League team’s debt at a steep discount. Last night the Globe and Mail reported the same story. From working on our NHL team valuations, which will go live on Forbes.com Nov. 30, I can tell you the Devils have over $250 million of debt piled on the team and arena, which they control. The debt is growing because Vanderbeek, unable to make interest payments, is capitalizing the interest.
Vanderbeek already missed a $100 million principal payment that was due Sept. 1. He was given an extension by the lenders in order to try and raise enough money to buy out co-owners Ray Chambers and Mike Gilfillan, but they wanted no part of it. Vanderbeek can buy some time because technically the team cannot be forced into bankruptcy by creditors until after the Stanley Cup finals. But the longer he holds onto the team the bigger the debt problem because he is not making interest payments.

None of that sounds promising. As Ozanian points out, it's looking very similar to the situation the Stars found themselves in when owner Tom Hicks couldn't pay his interest payments which ballooned to $600 million before he defaulted. It looks like Dallas is ready to crawl out of that situation as they work on finalizing a deal with Vancouver businessman Tom Gagliardi.

You wonder if the Devils wouldn't like to have the decision to build the Prudential Center over again. The financial hardships from it have clearly been too much for Vanderbeek to handle. Moreover, attendance has not been good to only make matters worse. They are just 26th in the league in average attendance, playing, or 25th if you prefer to look at percentage of tickets sold. They have sold 78.7 percent of their seats.

Ozanian concludes with some advice for commissioner Gary Bettman:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman needs to step up and get Vanderbeek out. The Stars are being sold at a cheap price with creditors taking a steep haircut. The same thing is almost certain to happen with the Devils. All this is bad for business, bad for the league’s brand and bad for NHL team values.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
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