The saga surrounding the sale of the Dallas Stars may finally be coming to an end. Mike Ozanian of Forbes Magazine is reporting that the team is on the brink of being sold for an amount in the range of $275-$300 million. He goes on to add this tidbit:
The sale of the Stars tells me two things: creditors of Hicks Sports Group will recoup some $200 million on top of what they will receive from the sale of the Texas Rangers and that despite the troubles of the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators hockey can sell in the right southern market. Even the lower enterprise value for the Stars works out to a rich 2.8 times revenue and 23 times operating income. Those are NBA-like multiples.
Considering that Hicks was able to recently get rid of the Texas Rangers in a messy litigation wrestling match that involved Nolan Ryan (who along with Chuck Greenberg ultimately bought the team for $590 million), Tom Hicks’ escape from the burden of professional sports is nearly complete. Liverpool soccer fans will be disheartened to know he’s still involved with them.
Ozanian fails to note, however, that hockey in Dallas is an enterprise unto itself and one that’s vastly different than the issues in Phoenix, Atlanta or Nashville. In Dallas, hockey has been a roaring success. Attendance is never an issue, the team has generally always been successful there and it’s grown the game in Texas by leaps and bounds. After all, do you think the AHL would have three franchises there without it going over well with the locals? I think not. The Stars are without a doubt a successful NHL franchise and their location in Texas just shows that if you bring a winner to town it can do well.
With Hicks out of the picture, whether the new owner is Bill Gallacher or Tom Gaglardi remains to be seen, but so long as they’re in place, you have to think that the shackles will come off of the finances of the Stars. This summer has seen the Stars rein things in a bit in regards to spending money, leading to trade rumors involving Mike Ribeiro being shipped out so the team could lose his contract. The Stars, as it sits now, have the sixth lowest payroll in the NHL. That may jump up a bit once they sign restricted free agents Niklas Grossman and James Neal. Getting Hicks’ toxic-of-late presence out of Dallas and the NHL should do both a world of good.