Mansfield News

City had to hustle to make 2017 hockey season

Mansfield had to move fast to get a Dr Pepper StarsCenter built and open in time for the 2017 hockey season.

Negotiations are still ongoing between Dallas Stars Enterprises and city staff, which meant the City Council had to consider a draft document at its meeting Monday.

The council unanimously approved the 28-year lease agreement, which requires two more readings, the next one set for Jan. 25. The council also unanimously agreed to a $900,200 contract with Magee Architects to design and oversee construction of the $15 million facility. The contract with Magee is 6.95 percent of the total construction cost.

In a memo to the council, City Manager Clayton Chandler explained the urgency to get a council decision and that negotiations will continue until the council’s final vote, anticipated in February.

“Every effort has been made to get the agreements completed for public review and for council to vote on as quickly as possible realizing that [Dallas Stars Enterprises] has emphasized the importance of opening the facility by July 1, 2017, to capture the hockey season scheduling, which is instrumental to the financing,” Chandler wrote in the memo. “There are items that still need to be addressed.”

The 80,000-square-foot facility is proposed near McKnight Park East and the new FieldhouseUSA project on the northbound U.S. 287 frontage road, just north of East Broad Street. It will feature two ice skating rinks, offices, skate rental area, concessions area, meeting and party rooms and locker rooms.

It would give Mansfield’s high school hockey team a home rink, but would also be open for figure skating, public skating, lessons, birthday parties and even curling. The Stars have built five other locations in the Metroplex, but Mansfield would be the only one in the southern part of the region.

The majority of speakers at Monday’s council meeting were parents and children who talked about the long drives to other areas of the Metroplex.

Hockey is a family affair for Mandy Gent with her and her husband playing recreational leagues and her two children also playing. Her son plays on junior varsity and varsity teams. Gent, who teaches at Mansfield High School, said she’d like to see the Tigers hockey team get as much support as the other sports. They travel to rinks almost every day and spend money on restaurants and entertainment in those cities.

“We’d like have a rink here in town where their friends and teachers could go watch them and support them,” she said.

However, Eugene Fenoglio, who lives near the proposed site, said the StarsCenter in Duncanville closed about seven years ago. He said the council should be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money. Mansfield has other priorities in its existing parks, he said.

“You don’t have to look very far in this section of the Metroplex, it’s a gamble. A $14 million gamble,” Fenoglio said. “After a few short years, that facility failed to make money and the Stars dropped out.”

But Stars officials say there’s pent-up demand in Mansfield and surrounding cities for a skating facility. And Duncanville’s demographics are different than Mansfield and the team has different ownership now. The Stars found another tenant and never missed a payment before terminating the lease with Duncanville, said Ed Reusch, Stars vice president of corporate support and development.

Like FieldhouseUSA and Big League Dreams, Mansfield would build the facility and lease it to Dallas Stars Enterprises, which will operate it.

The Stars want to occupy the facility by July 2017. Rent would start at $43,333 per month and gradually increase to $55,000 per month toward the end of the 28-year lease. The Stars will also be required to prepay $1.5 million in rent, and pay a $600,000 security deposit within 30 days of moving in.

The Stars will be 100 percent responsible for capital expenditures in the first 13 years of the lease. The city will take on more of that responsibility toward the later years of the lease. The last three years, the city’s responsibility shifts from 70 percent to 100 percent.

As for the construction, Mansfield would have to issue bonds in April or May of this year to get construction moving. The initial funds to pay Magee Architects will have to be paid now, though.

“Essentially, we are advancing funds from the General Fund Reserve to get the project started until the bond financing is complete,” Chandler said.

The Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corp. will consider a developer’s agreement for the StarsCenter on Jan. 21. If approved, it will go to the council for consideration, too.