Sports Teams

The Dallas Sports Commission is an non-profit organization that attracts, retains and supports sports and entertainment events that position Dallas as the premier sports destination. Our efforts have significantly increased awareness of Dallas locally, nationally, and internationally, and have resulted in the Dallas metro area being recognized as the #1 visitor destination in the state of Texas and the #1 sports city in America as voted by The Sporting News!

Many things make Dallas the ultimate sports destination. From the great hotels , restaurants , attractions , and facilities to the history , culture and sports passion ; Dallas has it all. Centrally located in the United States, Dallas can be reached from each coast with a four hour flight or less into either Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport or Dallas Love Field. A temperate climate all year long coupled with unrivaled facilities such as the American Airlines Center, Cotton Bowl at Fair Park, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas and AT&T Stadium make for a perfect host for any event large or small.

As the nation's ninth-largest city, Dallas is exciting, diverse and friendly - factors that contribute to its success as a leading sports and leisure destination. Host of the MLB World Series, NBA Finals, Super Bowl XLV and the 2014 NCAA Men's Final Four, as well as home to the Heart of Dallas Bowl and Cotton Bowl Classic, numerous marathons, Dallas Cup, the Red River Rivalry, and endless amateur, collegiate and Olympic championship events: There's never been a more exciting time to play in Dallas.


For rights holders who think big, Dallas is the host city that creates legendary experiences. Our passion for sports of all kinds coupled with a strong heritage of iconic athletes, events and innovative sports leaders provides the foundation you need for a successful event.


"The dedication of the Dallas Sports Commission is the underlying reason why we continue to select Dallas to host the Mizuno Lone Star Classic National Qualifier over two weekends at the Dallas Convention Center. We are very fortunate to be able to work with Monica Paul and her staff as their insight and experience have been instrumental in helping solve all types of challenges including facilities, hotels, production details, promotions, and support personnel. Since 2008 the event has grown by more than 53% and the Dallas Sports Commission has been professional, innovative, attentive and responsive, making sure that all of our needs in Dallas are met both in the planning and execution of the event."
Glen Lietzke, Executive Director
Mizuno Lone Star Classic

"The client's best interests are always in mind. I have to say my experiences over the past 10 years have been nothing less than extraordinary. They continually exceed my expectations through their diligence and exceptional customer service. They are one of the reasons our events will be in Dallas for the twenty-seventh consecutive year!"
Mike Duhon, Executive Director Competition Operations
National Cheerleaders Association

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys in Hall of Fame

Bob Lilly
Defensive tackle, 1961-1974
Inducted: 1980

Known as “Mr. Cowboy,” the two-time All-American at TCU was the first player drafted by the Cowboys and the team's first inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lilly was named rookie of the year in 1961 and made 10 consecutive Pro Bowls, from 1964 to 1974. He anchored the famous Doomsday Defense and helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl VI. He held the franchise record with 196 consecutive games played.

Roger Staubach
Quarterback, 1969-1979
Inducted: 1985

Staubach was originally drafted in 1964 but didn't start playing until 1969 after he completed his Navy service. The six-time Pro Bowler earned the nickname “Captain Comeback” for helping the Cowboys overcome fourth-quarter deficits 23 times. He led Dallas to seven division titles and two Super Bowl victories. He was named MVP of Super Bowl VI and inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor in 1983. He finished his career with 22,700 passing yards and 153 touchdown passes.

Tom Landry
Coach, 1960-1988
Inducted: 1990

Landry helped start the franchise before the 1960 season and for 29 years was the only coach the Cowboys had. After going 0-11-1 during his first season, Landry went on to compile a record of 270-178-6, including the playoffs. His innovations included the pre-snap motion and the “Flex” defense. Landry's teams won 13 divisional titles, five NFC titles and two Super Bowls (VI and XII).

Tex Schramm
President/General Manager, 1959-1989
Inducted: 1991

Texas Earnest Schramm Jr. oversaw the birth of the franchise and guided the team to the top of the NFL. A true visionary, Schramm was instrumental in creating the Cowboys Cheerleaders, the Ring of Honor and bringing an annual Thanksgiving Day game to Texas Stadium. During his tenure, Dallas made 18 playoff appearances and won two Super Bowls. Schramm also helped coordinate the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

Tony Dorsett
Running Back, 1977-1987
Inducted: 1994

The Cowboys sent four draft picks to Seattle in 1977 for the rights to draft Dorsett, a Heisman Trophy winner at Pittsburgh. He rushed for 1,007 yards as a rookie and broke the 1,000-yard barrier each of the next four years, contributing to Dallas' Super Bowl XII victory. The four-time Pro Bowler finished with 12,739 rushing yards, fifth most in NFL history. Ninety-nine of those yards came on his NFL-record run against Minnesota in 1983.

Randy White
Defensive Tackle, 1975-1988
Inducted: 1994

The second overall pick in the 1975 draft became a dominant force over his 14-year career. The “Manster” — half-man, half-monster — struck fear in the hearts of opponents. Although the NFL did not recognize sacks as an official statistic until 1982, White registered 16 in 1978. He ranked third in franchise history with 1,104 tackles, including 701 solos. He earned Pro Bowl honors nine times, was selected co-MVP of Super Bowl XII and was the 1978 NFL defensive player of the year.

Mel Renfro
Defensive back, 1964-1977
Inducted: 1996

R enfro arrived in Dallas as a highly touted running back from Oregon. By the time his 14-year career was over, he was among the best defensive backs in NFL history. Renfro rewarded coach Tom Landry for the position switch with 52 interceptions and 10 Pro Bowls. After six years at safety, Renfro moved to cornerback. He played in four Super Bowls and eight NFC Championship Games. In the 1971 Pro Bowl, he returned two punts for touchdowns.

Troy Aikman
Quarterback, 1989-2000
Inducted: 2006

The No. 1 overall draft pick in 1989 went 0-11 as a starter his rookie year. He became only the third player in NFL history to lead a team to three world titles. With Aikman at the controls, Dallas won Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII and XXX. He was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII, when he threw four touchdown passes in a 52-17 win over Buffalo. Upon retirement, Aikman was the franchise leader in passing yards (32,942) and TD passes (165).

Rayfield Wright
Offensive Tackle, 1967-1979
Inducted: 2006

Wright played tight end and offensive and defensive tackle during his first three seasons. He settled at right tackle in 1970 and became one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history. Wright was a six-time Pro Bowler who participated in five Super Bowls, winning two. He was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2004 and reached the Pro Football Hall of Fame two years later.

Michael Irvin
Wide Receiver, 1988-1999
Inducted: 2007

Michael “The Playmaker” Irvin helped lead the Dallas Cowboys to six division titles and three Super Bowl rings before a spinal injury cut his playing career short. Irvin was the team's top receiver for eight consecutive seasons and retired as the Cowboys alltime leader in receptions (750), receiving yards (11,904), playoff receptions (87) and playoff receiving yards (1,315). As a five-time Pro Bowl selection, between 1991-98, Irvin has two more appearances than any other receiver in club history. Irvin was inducted into the Ring of Honor with Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman on Monday Sept. 19, 2005 at halftime of the Cowboys-Redskins game. Irvin was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

Bob Hayes
Wide Receiver, 1965-75
Inducted: 2009

“The World's Fastest Human” helped revolutionize the receiver position with his speed and ushered in the age of zone defenses as teams tried to devise ways to stop him. He was a threat to score any time he had the ball. He finished his career with 71 touchdowns and a staggering average of 20 yards per reception. Named to three Pro Bowls, Hayes holds all or part of 11 Cowboys records.

Emmitt Smith
Running Back, 1990-2004
Inducted: 2010

Emmitt Smith retired as the NFL's all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards and scored more rushing touchdowns (164) than any other player in NFL history. Smith was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, won four NFL rushing titles (‘91, ‘92, ‘93 and ‘95), three Super Bowl titles, and a league (1993) and Super Bowl (XXVIII) MVP award. Smith broke Walter Payton's NFL rushing record at Texas Stadium on Oct. 27, 2002 on an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. Smith was inducted into the Ring of Honor with Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin on Monday Sept. 19, 2005 at halftime of the Cowboys-Redskins game. Smith was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

Deion Sanders
Cornerback, 1995-99
Inducted: 2011

Selected by Atlanta in first round (fifth player overall) of 1989 draft. ... Returned punt 68 yards for touchdown in NFL debut. ... Scored total of six touchdowns on punt returns, three TDs on kickoff returns, and returned nine interceptions for scores during career. ... Multifaceted athlete returned one fumble for TD and had 60 receptions for 784 yards and 3 TDs. ... In all, recorded 53 career interceptions including five with Ravens when he returned to field after three-year retirement. ... Member of NFLs All-Decade Team of 1990s as both cornerback, punt returner. ... Led NFL in punt returns, 1998, with 15.6 average. ... Led NFC in kickoffs in 1992 and interceptions in 1991, 1993. ... Named first-team All-Pro nine times at cornerback along with receiving All-Pro as kick returner in 1992 and punt returner 1998. ... Elected to eight Pro Bowls. ... Retired second all-time in interception return yardage (1,331), tied for second for most interceptions returned for touchdown in a career (9) and a season (3). ... His 303 yards gained on interception returns in 1994, third best in NFL at retirement. ... In 1994 became first player to have two 90-yard interception returns for touchdowns in same season. ... Named NFLs Defensive Player of the Year, 1994.

Dallas Mavericks

Get answers to our frequently asked questions so you're good and ready when you make your way to American Airlines Center for your next Mavs experience!

American Airlines Center Tours

Tours are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on non-event days from 11:00 a.m.-2:45 p.m.

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)

ATM's are located in the south lobby of the Terrace Level and at the Northwest and Southwest corners of the Plaza level.


This year's Dr Pepper Ballkids have all been selected. Come back next season for info on how to register.

Birthday Announcements

Coming to the game on your child's birthday? Have their name announced pregame. Contact - please list the child's name and age.

Box Office

The main box office is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is located on the northeast corner of American Airlines Center.


Still cameras are allowed inside American Airlines Center for Mavs games.

Video and flash cameras are NOT allowed

Professional cameras are prohibited at all events in American Airlines Center unless accompanied by appropriate media credentials. Cameras containing lenses (not to exceed 4 inches in length) with no flashes may be allowed for some events. Video cameras and audio recorders are prohibited in American Airlines Center unless specifically approved.

Children's Tickets

Children two years of age and older are required to have a ticket to gain admittance to Mavericks games. Children under two are not required to have a ticket provided they sit on an adult's lap.


Dallas Mavericks Blue (Pantone 2935C), Dallas Mavericks Silver (Pantone 877C),
Dallas Mavericks Black (Pantone Black C)

Dancer Tryouts

Mavs Dancer auditions are held during the summer, usually in July or August. Prep classes are held in the summer, usually May thru July, and are instructional classes that teach routines similar to the ones the dancers do throughout the season. Applications can be found here on closer to the date of the auditions.

DART Services

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and Trinity Railway Express (TRE) are both offering special services for Mavs fans during the season.

DART's permanent Victory Station at American Airlines Center includes boarding platforms for both the TRE commuter rail and DART light rail services.

TRE Train Service: There are 2 locations where the train can be picked up at; Richland Hills, 7225 Burns St. and Hurst Bell Station, 3232 Bell St. Pick-up time is 2 hours before the game and lasts 1 hour after the game. The train picks up every 30 minutes and holds 70 people per car. The cost to ride to the American Airlines Center is $2.00 per person.
Complete DART schedule .
Complete TRE schedule .


Over the last 20 years, the Dallas Mavericks have granted thousands of donation requests in an effort to further North Texas communities and their organizations. Donations have ranged from national organization fundraisers to school raffles. Because the needs in North Texas are so great, guidelines have been implemented in order to assist as many organizations as possible. If you are interested in seeking a donation, please check out our guidelines .

Emergencies at Home

In case of an emergency, Mavericks fans can be located and contacted at American Airlines Center. Before leaving home for the game, leave your seat location (section, row and seat numbers) with your contact. Your contact can call 214.665.4299 and inform the operator that an emergency message must be relayed. An usher will immediately be sent to your seat to deliver the message.


The Dallas Mavericks organization is always looking for talented professionals to join our team. We have a variety of full, seasonal and internship opportunities available. Please check our job listings on a regular basis as it is updated when new positions become available with the Mavs.


Ticketed patrons may enter the building two (2) hours prior to game time. Spectators are restricted from bringing containers, flash cameras or any recording devices into American Airlines Center.

Fan Mail

Fan mail can be sent to:
Coach's or Player's Name
c/o Dallas Mavericks
2500 Victory Ave.
Dallas, TX 75219

Fan Shops

Visit the American Airlines Center Fan Shops during any event for the latest in Mavericks gifts. The Fan Shop is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

First Aid

In the event of an illness or injury, Fist Aid Stations are located at the northwest corner of the Plaza Level near section 111 and Terrace Level near section 313 .

Game Programs

The Mavs have two game-night programs available for fans. Copies of Tipoff will be distributed to the first 7,500 fans at each home game. Hoop Magazine is available for purchase during Mavs home games for $5.

Guest Relations/Mavs Info Booth

The Mavericks guest relations and information centers are located at the southwest corner of the Plaza Level near section 102 and the east concourse of the Terrace Level near section 326.

Guests with Disabilities

American Airlines Center offers many services and amenities to accommodate the needs of guests with disabilities. There are seats to accommodate guests with disabilities located throughout the arena in virtually every price range. There are 10 elevators and eight (8) escalators that service the different levels. Braille signage and menus are available a well as TDD machines and volume-enhanced pay phones.

Wheelchairs and walkers may be stored behind the accessible seating areas or at the Guest Services Room located at Section 102 on the Plaza Concourse.

Parking accommodations for guests with disabilities are available in Lot F on All-Star Way and Lot C on North Houston Street.

In addition, guests with disabilities will find accessible fountains located adjacent to restrooms throughout the facility.

Hoop Camps

The goal of Dallas Mavericks Hoop Camp, presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors, is to provide a high-quality, fundamental teaching and playing environment for boys and girls ages 8-18. Hoop Camp kids have the opportunity to work with excellent basketball teachers and coaches and improve by learning and playing in an intensive, yet enjoyable, one-week camp. Camps are offered weekly throughout the Metroplex from May-August. Click here for more information.

Individual Game Tickets

To purchase individual game tickets, call Ticketmaster at 214.373.8000, click here or visit the American Airlines Center Box Office located on the south side of American Airlines Center. The box office is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Listen To The Game From Your Seat

Mavs fans can tune their personal radios to 97.5 FM while in their seats at American Airlines Center during games to hear the Mavs radio broadcast.

Lost Children/Lost & Found

Guests are encouraged to register children at Guest Services located in the southwest corner of the Plaza Level near section 102 and the east concourse of the Terrace Level near section 326. A wristband will be given to each child so parents can be found easier. Lost items will be turned into or claimed at Guest Services.

Lost/Stolen Tickets

Season Ticket Holders who have lost their tickets to an individual game should contact the Mavericks Ticket Office at 214.747.MAVS. If the tickets have been stolen, the owner of the tickets will need to file a police report and receive a case number before replacements can be printed.


Mavs fans can get the latest Mavs gear by going to or by visiting the Fan Shop at American Airlines Center. It is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Painted Fans/Mavs Madness Zone

Free tickets will be given to painted fans through the Cingular Mavs Madness Zone program. Painted fans can meet at the Mavs Excursion two (2) hours prior to tipoff to sign up for the tickets. The tickets will be awarded by the Mavs Street Team one hour before tipoff.

Attention Men: Please do not paint your backs! Only your face and chests.

See what it takes to be a painted fan !


For parking information, directions and questions call the American Airlines Center Parking Hotline at 214.665.4700. Full season ticket customers can purchase full season parking books and half season customers can purchase half season books. Call 214.747.MAVS for details. Independent cash parking lots are located east of Field Street, and south of Woodall Rodgers Freeway throughout the West End.


Download the Mavs schedule into your PDA now!


All pre-season, regular season and post-season Mavs games can be heard on the ESPN Radio 103.3 FM. Additionally, for our Spanish-speaking listeners, all Mavs games, home and away, are broadcast en Espanol on 1270 AM La Voz del Pueblo.

Shuttle Service from Local Restaurants


Pick-up time is 1 hour before the game and lasts 1 hour after the game. Parking is at the meters surrounding the building. The shuttles deploy every 30 minutes holding 30-50 people per trolley. You do not have to eat at the restaurant to use the shuttle service.


Pick-up times are continuous and will last 1 hour after game time. Parking is right next to the building. The shuttles deploy every 30 minutes holding 30-50 people per trolley. You do not have to eat at the restaurant to use the shuttle service.

Dick's Last Resort:

Pick-up time is 1 hour before the game and lasts 1 hour after the game. Parking is at all three corners surrounding the building. The shuttle service used is West End Eagle, and it deploys every 30 minutes holding 30-50 people per trolley. You do not have to eat at the restaurant to use the shuttle service.

West End Pub:

Pick-up time is 1 hour before the game and lasts continuously until everyone is back. Parking is behind the restaurant on Houston St. The shuttle's run every 20 minutes and each bus holds 58 people. You do not have to eat at the restaurant to use the shuttle service.

On the Border:

Pick-up time is 1 hour 15 minutes before and is ongoing until everyone is back. Parking is at the meters in the West End Parking Lot. The shuttles deploy every 30 minutes holding 65 people per trolley. You do not have to eat at the restaurant to use the shuttle service.


Pick-up time is 1 hour before the game and lasts continuously until everyone is back. Parking is behind the restaurant. The shuttle's run every 10 minutes and each bus holds 50-70 people. You do have to eat at the restaurant to use the shuttle service. The receipt is the ticket onto the buses.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Click here to find out how to become a sponsor of the Dallas Mavericks.

Smoking Areas

Smoking areas are located outside the north, south, east and west entrances on the Plaza Level of American Airlines Center. An additional smoking area is located on the balcony of the Platinum Level, however, access is limited to premium level ticket holders.

Will Call

The Will Call service allows customers to drop off and/or pick up tickets on the day of the game. The main box office is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is located on the south side of American Airlines Center. Two hours prior to game time, Will Call will move to the northeast Box Office. Guests may pickup their tickets with a valid photo identification.

Important Numbers

Dallas Mavericks – 214.747.MAVS
American Airlines Center Box Office – 214.665.4797
American Airlines Center Emergency Line – 214.222.3687
Lost & Found – 214.665.4825
Ticketmaster Phone Center – 1-800-4NBATIX (1-800-462-2849)

FC Dallas

FC Dallas became a charter member club of Major League Soccer on June 6, 1995, selected along with Kansas City and Colorado to give the league 10 teams for its initial year. Known originally as the Dallas Burn, the team's original colors (red and black) and logo (fire-breathing horse) were unveiled at a gala in New York City on October 17, 1995. That same day, MLS announced that Mexican-icon Hugo Sanchez was allocated to the team as its first player in team history.

Six months later, Dallas played its first MLS game, defeating the San Jose Clash in front of 27,779 fans at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on April 14, 1996. In its second year, Dallas claimed its first major championship, winning the 1997 U.S. Open Cup title by defeating D.C. United 5-3 on penalty kicks after a scoreless game.

The team was a league-owned entity from its inception until the fall of 2002, when Lamar Hunt and his family took over the operating rights. Between 1996 and 2009, Dallas compiled a regular season record of 180-185-63 and qualified for the postseason on ten occasions. In 2006, the club recorded its highest point total in franchise history, going 16-12-4 for 52 points and earning the top seed in the Western Conference Playoffs for the first time ever.

The team changed its name to FC Dallas after the conclusion of the 2004 season. As part of the club's rebranding, new uniforms and a new logo were unveiled along with the name change. The logo features the name FC Dallas and the number 96, signifying the year that the club played its inaugural game, above a drawing of a bull, signifying the kind of Texas cattle that were driven along the North Texas trails throughout the 19th century. The logo features the club's colors of red, white and blue, (all of which can be found in the American flag and the state flag of Texas), and a hint of silver.

After playing all of the team's home games at either the Cotton Bowl in Dallas or Dragon Stadium in Southlake, Texas for the first nine and a half seasons of its existence, FC Dallas moved to its new home, FC Dallas Stadium , the third soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer, on August 6, 2005.

In 2006, FC Dallas formed exclusive partnerships with Mexican First Division club Tigres de la Universidad Autonoma de Nueva Leon (UANL) and Clube Atletico Paranaense of Brazil's Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A. These partnerships provide FC Dallas with an avenue to develop philosophies, practices, and training methods, as well as the opportunity to exchange players through loans.

Additionally, these partnerships have seen FCD play an annual home-and-away series against each club. FC Dallas won the inaugural Rio Grande Plate against Tigres in 2006, but the Mexican club claimed the plate in 2007 and 2008. Atletico Paranaense won the inaugural USA-Brazil Challenge in 2007, but 2008 saw FCD claim the title.

In December 2007, FCD announced that the team had formed a business alliance with the Trinidad & Tobago Pro League, at the conclusion of the Shaka Hislop Tribute Cup, a tournament played in Trinidad between FCD, Clube Atletico Paranaense, and two all-star teams from the TT Pro League.

In 2010 the club earned its first Western Conference title with a 3-0 win over the LA Galaxy. FC Dallas played Colorado in the MLS Cup in Toronto, but fell just short, 2-1, in extra time.

Dallas Stars Hockey

The Minnesota North Stars experienced ups and downs from their inception in 1967, including an extremely rare and mostly unknown merger with another NHL club. In 1978, the cashstrapped
North Stars were on the brink of bankruptcy, and the Cleveland Barons, who had recently relocated from the California Bay Area, were struggling at the gate and facing financial issues of their own. The two joined forces and completed something considered unprecedented in the NHL, as the North Stars absorbed the Barons to make one team.

George and Gordon Gund, the then-owners of the Barons, bought the North Stars out of their financial trouble and took control of the franchise.

Fast forward to 1990. The Gund brothers, frustrated with their situation in Minnesota, attempted to move the franchise to the Bay Area. While the NHL initially denied the request, both sides eventually reached a compromise: the NHL would agree to give the Gunds ownership of a new franchise only after they found a buyer for the North Stars. Howard Baldwin, Morris Belzberg and Norm Green expressed interest in purchasing the team from the Gunds, reaching an agreement to buy the club. Free from their Minnesota troubles, the Gunds took their newly acquired franchise west, bringing hockey back to Northern California.

Following along? In what might be two of the most intricate deals in NHL history, there are two common factors - the Gund brothers and the North Stars.

The Golden Seals and NHL expansion

To fully comprehend the intricacies of the situation, it's easiest to start in 1967, when the NHL decided it would add six franchises to its “Original Six.” Philadelphia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, California (Oakland), and St. Louis were awarded the six coveted expansion franchises to join New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Detroit and Montreal in the league. Two teams were required to occupy California through an agreement with the CBS television network. The Bay Area, which had already been exposed to the sport through the San Francisco Seals of the Western Hockey League, was a natural spot for one of the two California teams.

New owner Barry Van Gerbig chose Oakland as the newly-appointed franchise's home base, but named the club the California Seals to appeal to San Francisco fans as Oakland wasn't yet considered “major-league.” But a month into the season, he had a change of heart and converted the club's name to the Oakland Seals. Regardless of their name, the Seals enjoyed instant success on the ice, making the playoffs in two of their first three seasons. However, the Seals' on-ice success didn't equate to box office profits and Van Gerbig began shopping the team around. After several failed attempts to sell the team, he found a suitor in Oakland Athletics owner Charles O. Finley.

An innovator in creative ways to bring fans to A's games, Finley made various changes to the Seals that he found successful with his baseball club. He changed the team's color scheme to the patented green and gold, and added names to the back of the jerseys – one of the first to do so in the NHL. The team even went as far as painting their skates white to model the A's signature look of white cleats. Despite Finley's creative marketing ploys, the team continued to struggle. It was said that players used to joke that at the end of each season, after the skates had been painted white multiple times to cover marks the puck would leave, their skates would weigh up to 20 pounds.

The struggles continued until the NHL finally stepped in and took control of the Seals in February 1974, and ran the club until San Francisco hotel financier Mel Swig grabbed ahold of the reins in 1975. The former owner of the WHL San Francisco Seals had intentions of building a new arena in the San Francisco area. The Seals, whose play had improved from previous seasons, still fell short of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. More failures on the ice brought disappointment to Swig. His arena plans were denied by the city and his hope of building a premier arena in the Bay Area was looking more like a dream than a reality. Cleveland native George Gund III, a minority owner with club, convinced Swig to move the team to Ohio. On July 14, 1976, the move was made
official and the Cleveland Barons were born.

The Barons and an NHL merger

The Cleveland Barons were set up for failure from the start. Engaging in the first NHL relocation since 1934, the Barons chose to play their hockey at the Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio. A promising arena at the time, Swig and Gund took a gamble with the Coliseum due to its large seating capacity (18,000-plus for hockey games - then the most in the NHL) and what they considered
a prime location, as it was less than an hour drive for people residing in both Cleveland and Akron.

To pay tribute to the city's hockey past, the team decided to take on the name of the “Barons” after the former Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, who played from 1929-34. The city of Cleveland had previously shown much promise as an NHL city, but the league had declined the city's request for a franchise three times prior to the Seals' move from California.

Unfortunately, all these pieces weren't used to their full potential. While the move was announced on July 14, 1976, the deal wasn't finalized until August, leaving the team in a crippling situation. With a short amount of time, the owners were unable to promote the new team that had been brought to Cleveland. The attendance numbers faltered, as residents found the drive to the Coliseum a hassle. On opening night, the Barons skated out in their new red and white threads to only 8,900 fans.

Generating business was a constant obstacle for Cleveland, as the team would fail to bring in more than 10,000 fans for 33 of the 40 home games during the 1976-77 campaign. With money presenting itself as an issue, rumblings began to surface that the Barons wouldn't be able to complete the season. After missing two payrolls in February 1977, the NHL took control of the Barons to avoid the team folding midseason – something that had occurred in the rival World Hockey Association (WHA), which at one point was considered a legitimate threat to the NHL.

A loan from the League guaranteed the Barons would finish out the season. Unfortunately, the Barons concluded the year in the cellar of the Adams Division and encountered lower attendance numbers than they had seen in Oakland. Enough was enough, as Swig jumped ship and sold his shares to George Gund and his brother, Gordon.

Gordon Gund was a brilliant businessman and a ‘hockey guy', having played for Harvard in the late 1950s. Shortly after college though, he began to lose his sight to a disease known as retinitis pigmentosa, finally going blind in 1970. Even though he lost his vision, Gordon went on to own four professional sports franchises – the Minnesota North Stars, Cleveland Barons, San Jose Sharks and the Cleveland Cavaliers – and helped build Cleveland's Gund Arena (now known as Quicken Loans Arena).

“Gordon is an incredible businessman,” said Ralph Strangis, Sr., Gund's lawyer for much of his time in Minnesota. “If you would have talked to him through a teleconference there is no way in the world anybody would ever know (he was blind). Even in face-to-face meetings, he had such a photographic memory that you just forget about it.”

Unfortunately for the Gund brothers, the Barons weren't one of their successes. While the two invested an exceptional amount of money in the team to try to keep it afloat, the struggles on the ice continued and the Barons finished last in the Adams Division for the second straight year. While the Barons had been reporting heavy losses, the Minnesota North Stars were also struggling financially, as their attendance had begun to falter. The NHL, which was attempting to continue its reign of superiority over the WHA, acknowledged that their worst nightmare – two teams folding – was a very real possibility. With that in mind, NHL President John Ziegler comprised a plan.

To keep the Minnesota North Stars franchise from vacating one of the premier hockey hotbeds in the United States, Gordon and George Gund agreed to purchase the team and merge them with the Barons. With that, the Cleveland Barons disassembled and the North Stars took over their place in the Adams Division – all while the North Stars picked players from the Barons roster. Of the players added, Giles Meloche, Dennis
Maruk, Al MacAdam and Greg Smith are the only players to skate for the California Golden Seals, the Cleveland Barons and the Minnesota North Stars.

The Gunds and the North Stars experienced moderate success in the beginning of the new ownership tenure, making it to the Stanley Cup finals in 1981, losing to the defending champion New York Islanders. However, with a poorly located arena and an inability to compete with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Twins and Vikings, the team began to suffer.

“When you grew up in Minnesota and you were a hockey player, you had two aspirations,” said Dallas Stars play-by-play man Ralph Strangis.
“You want to play in the state high school tournament, which was huge, and you want to be a Gopher. Nobody ever wanted to be a North Star.”

San Jose and the 1991 dispersal/ expansion drafts

By 1989, the Gunds became fed up with the Minnesota Sports Commission. After a failed attempt to buy the land around the Met Center, the two
threatened to move the North Stars to the Bay Area. George had been a minority owner of the Seals and felt they would have a bigger and more lucrative market to work with than in Minnesota.

“They went to the league ‘seeker' and told them that the fans aren't responding anymore and the Gophers and other clubs are taking up all the action,” former Stars owner Norm Green said. “We aren't winning, we aren't getting attendance so we're losing money and we'd like to move it to some big market.”

With the NHL wanting to maintain a presence in the hockey capital of the U.S., Ziegler struck up a deal with the Gunds: “find another owner to take over the team, and the league will grant you an expansion team in San Jose.” Howard Baldwin, Morris Belzberg and Norman Green came forward and purchased the team. Shortly thereafter, Green bought out Belzberg and Baldwin to become the sole owner of the team by the
1990-91 season. Green had been an owner with the Calgary Flames throughout the 1980s and had won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1989. He expected to experience the same success in the Twin Cities.

“I think the fans thought we were off the hook when the Gunds were out. ‘Oh thank god they're gone,'” Strangis said. “They were moving that team. That was it. I think when I heard Norm Green had bought the team or that there was a deal in place to buy the team I was very pleased because then I knew the North Stars were staying in Minnesota. That's what Norm Green buying the team meant at that time.”

During Green's first year, the North Stars went on to play in one of their most competitive seasons as a franchise. While they snuck into the playoffs with a losing record, the team had been preparing the final month of the regular season for their first round opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks. The North Stars demolished the Blackhawks in the first round, pummeling them with power-play goal after power-play goal,
finishing with 35 throughout the playoffs, the most in a Stanley Cup playoff year.

“They did everything for a month to prepare to beat the Hawks,” Strangis said. “Every game they played was to beat the Hawks. They figured how they would attack (Chicago goaltender Ed) Belfour, what their forecheck was going to look like and all those things. They put a plan in place. It was really fun and the people came back.”

After thrashing the Blackhawks, the North Stars advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they faced off against Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the team succumbed to the Penguins in six games, fans began to fill the arena once more, leaving the end of the 1991 season with a glimmer of hope that professional hockey could be saved in Minnesota.

With Mike Modano blossoming into a superstar, a veteran influenced team and a bevy of up-and-coming prospects from the 1990 draft, the team could only go up in terms of success and attendance. Despite the team's inspiring run, the NHL – in an agreement with the Gunds on their new expansion team – went forward with an off-season dispersal draft between the North Stars and the newlyfounded San Jose Sharks, marking the second time the Gunds had taken or merged players onto a new team.

“Ziegler dealt with the Gunds and we just had to take what was offered,” Green said. “We could have said we're not going to make the deal unless we get a better arrangement with the players. We weren't unhappy about it – it was a pretty set thing.”

There were ripples in the new agreement between the league and the Gunds. As per the rules of the dispersal draft, the North Stars were allowed to protect 16 members of the team, including Mike Modano. However, the team still lost 24 players to San Jose, many of whom went on to have successful NHL careers – most notably goaltender Arturs Irbe. After the Sharks picked their players from the North Stars, both teams then took part in an expansion draft, allowing each to draft 10 players from franchises around the NHL.

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