This is member-exclusive content
icon/ui/info filled

sportsStars

How the Stars plan to corner the market of hockey fans in Texas with preseason game in El Paso

With outreach to the Hispanic community, Dallas has big plans for new fans.

When the Stars take the ice Oct. 3 in El Paso for a preseason game against Arizona, it will be the happy meeting ground of two of the organization’s most visible business initiatives: marketing to the entire state of Texas and outreach to the Hispanic community.

The NHL announced the game Wednesday morning as part of its Kraft Hockeyville USA contest. El Paso was named the winner of the contest in 2020, meaning the city also received $150,000 in rink upgrades and $10,000 in hockey equipment in addition to hosting a preseason game.

The game was not held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a high profile event for El Paso hockey, and hopefully, this is going to create some fans,” Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts said.

The Stars have placed a heavy emphasis on cornering the market on Texas hockey fans this season.

Their marketing slogan “Texas Hockey” is plastered on the team’s website header, and visible as a hashtag in many of the team’s tweets. American Airlines Center will feature the team’s secondary logo — the one with the Texas state outline — at center ice this year. This season, the Stars are also advertising in El Paso and Austin, close to where AHL affiliate Texas plays in Cedar Park.

The Stars are the only NHL team in the state. The Texas Stars are the only AHL team in the state after San Antonio’s team was relocated to Henderson, Nev.

Alberts said the players would not be able to interact with fans in El Paso as much as the team would have liked because of the pandemic, but the Stars would still have a presence via mascot Victor E. Green and school appearances.

The game will be held at the El Paso County Events Center, which is less than half a mile from the Mexican border. Alberts has said that the Stars want to be “Mexico’s team.”

“Why not?” Alberts said. “There isn’t anybody else. There’s a lot of Mexicans in Dallas-Fort Worth and in Texas. That’s really an audience that we’re trying to appeal to. Obviously, to all Latinos, but people of Mexican origin make up the majority of that group [in Dallas]. We think that’s a great opportunity for growth from a fan base perspective.”

The team recently hired former NHL goaltender Al Montoya to be the organization’s director of community outreach, a new position that “will be focused on helping the organization grow the game of hockey among underrepresented fans, including Spanish-speakers like himself,” according to the Stars.

Montoya was the first Cuban-American to play in the NHL and the league’s first native Spanish speaker. The 36-year-old played nine seasons in the NHL and will be vital to the team’s inroads with the Latinx community in the Dallas area.

The team also has other plans.

Alberts said the Stars want to play a game in Mexico City, but he did not place a date on it because of unknowns surrounding the pandemic and logistics in Mexico City. Would the Stars hire a Spanish broadcast team to call Stars games?

“I think it’s all of the above without getting totally specific and giving away all of our secrets too early,” Alberts said.

Alberts also said the team would try to enroll many boys and girls into its learn to skate and play programs to build at the grassroots level, in addition to forging relationships with Mexican-based and Hispanic-owned companies.

The game against the Coyotes gives the Stars seven preseason games. Training camp begins Sept. 23, with the first preseason game Sept. 27 at St. Louis.

Find more Stars coverage from The Dallas Morning News here

In This Story

Matthew DeFranks. Matt covers the Stars for SportsDay, and previously covered the Florida Panthers for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He's also covered college football, the Miami Marlins, the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels for a variety of outlets. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame.

matthew.defranks@dallasnews.com /mdefranks @MDeFranks
Stars Synopsis

Be the smartest Stars fan

News, analysis and opinion about the Dallas Stars delivered FREE to your inbox.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy