Dallas Stars: Geoff Moore

Management team ready to move forward

August, 11, 2010
Geoff Moore, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Dallas Stars, said the foundation that former president Jeff Cogen help put in place in the front office when the team first came to Dallas in 1993 will help guide the organization now that Cogen has departed to become CEO of the Nashville Predators.

Moore can tell you about Cogen’s contributions. Moore was the first employee hired by the Stars after Norm Green brought the team to Dallas from Minnesota in 1993. And he knows what things were like before Cogen came to Dallas along with Jim Lites.

“I was so overwhelmed with the thought of all the things that had to be done. It just seemed like it was crazy with the season fast approaching,” said Moore, who was just 25 when he joined the Stars. “When Norm hired Jim Lites and Jim brought Jeff Cogen with him from Detroit and they walked into the office, in about 15 minutes order had been created. They split up and organized their staffs and told them exactly what to do. That’s the position Jeff will have for me.

“I was a young guy, 25 at the time, and knew nothing about sports. They knew the answer to everything and they knew what to do in every situation. It was wonderful having them there. They built a really cool culture and organization, and I don’t think when you write the history of the Stars you can give them too much credit for what they did.”

Cogen, who moved on to Southwest Sports Group in 1999 and then went on to the Florida Panthers and Texas Rangers, took over as Stars president in 2007, replacing Lites. How Cogen’s responsibilities will be handled moving forward is up in the air, but the senior management staff still in place is experienced and ready to tackle the task.

Moore is part of that senior management staff along with Robert Hutson, executive vice president of finance and chief financial officer, and Randy Locey, executive vice president of business operations. All three oversee the various departments within the organization. Those three could continue to work together in some manner to run things until a new owner is found. For now, Tom Hicks is the owner and what happens next is up to him.

“I haven’t talked to Mr. Hicks yet, so I don’t know exactly the form he wants it to take,” said Moore. “I assume there has to be a first among equals situation just because that’s the way the world works. Someone at the end of the day has to say A or B. That would be for someone else to decide and that would be Tom Hicks.”

Cogen’s contract expired at the end of June. How management is structured after the sale will be up to the new owner. But Moore believes the current management staff is up to the task of handling things in the interim.

“As a team I think we are fully capable,” he said. “One of the great things that Jeff Cogen set up in his management team is that we work together so much and in such detail on all of our issues every week that we are all fully briefed on all the issues. “

A big issue is the sale of the team. The hope is that it could be done by October.

“The Texas Rangers sale has taught me never to assume that I know what’s going to happen. I think ours is far less complicated than theirs,” Moore said. “The way I look at is that it’s going to happen. It’s a matter of when, not if it’s going to happen.”

And Moore said when it does happen the organization will be in a good position to handle the transition. The management staff has plenty of experience. He’s been with the team since 1993, Locey since 1999 and Hutson since 2000. And below the senior management staff there many department managers that have been with the club a long time as well. It’s a group that’s been through change before, including the lockout.

“We have our plan, our budgets for the year. We have a great, experienced management staff,” said Moore. “The physical day it happens to me is not that concerning. I will look forward to whenever it happens. We’re in a strong position."

The Stars are in a strong position in the NHL’s eyes as well, according to Moore. With the team up for sale there’s more interaction with the league than usual. The increased activity has to do with questions surrounding the sale, and Moore sees that as a positive.

“The league’s been very good to us,” said Moore. “The league values the Dallas Stars highly. They value this market highly. We’ve been good for the NHL over our 17 years and they’ve been good to us.”

And all that adds up to the Stars staying put in Dallas. When asked about those occasional rumblings that the Stars could move once the team is sold, Moore said it isn’t going to happen.

“There’s no way in a million years that we’ll move. There is zero chance,” he said. “Not only is our brand strong, but the commitment both the Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks had to make to the city of Dallas to build the American Airlines Center keeps us here with an iron clad guarantee for 30, 40, 50 years. If there was a number less than zero that counted as a percentage, that would be the number I would choose. “

Jeff Cogen helped introduce hockey in Dallas

August, 10, 2010
It was an energetic front office and sales team that arrived in Dallas in May 1993 as the Stars franchise moved from Minnesota to Texas.

Jeff Cogen, Jim Lites, Geoff Moore and others found out that they had to educate sports fans as much as anything else about a sport played on ice in football country. But slowly, they made it happen. Cogen was in the middle of it all. The salesman, who used to work for Ringling Bros. in selling the circus, helped drive people to the arena, handing out tickets if that's what it took to get them to at least try the sport.

As the education continued, the team saw steady improvement in the standings. And by 1999, the Stars had brought a Stanley Cup to Dallas.

Cogen called it the pinnacle of his career. He reflected on that career Tuesday after officially taking over as CEO with the Nashville Predators.

"Bob Gainey made us look like a genius," Cogen said about the former Stars GM and coach. "He did a tremendous job in helping us sell by just developing that product. There’s no substitute for what Bob Gainey did. We had made a nice marketing and sales foundation before we were really good, though. Those revenue streams helped fund the talent that took us there. It was a partnership."

The Stars made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000 and continued to pack the building until the last few seasons, when sagging television ratings and a team that has missed the playoffs -- not to mention a lockout a few years back too -- has made selling tickets to the Stars a much tougher endeavor.

Cogen wasn't afraid to get creative, either. In the last few seasons, he had reduced season ticket prices in nearly the entire arena and did what he could to add value, whether that was discounted parking or food vouchers. But Cogen felt now, at age 52, was the time for the Stars president to move on to something else.

"The title is CEO in Nashville," Cogen said. "I’ve got additional responsibility. I won’t run hockey operations, but I'll run the business and answer to the ownership board. It was career growth for me. It was also time to slow down a little bit. I enjoy the size of the Nashville market. It’s 10 hours from where I grew up. I did the circus here and enjoyed it. It was a combination of those factors coupled with the uncertainty of new ownership that made me decide to do it."

The Stars have an experienced management team that isn't going anywhere. Geoff Moore, who was here when the club moved, is executive VP of sales and marketing and has developed a good relationship with the staff and key clients. Randy Locey (12 years on the job) is the executive VP of business operations and Robert Hutson (10 years) is the executive VP of finance and CFO.

The Stars are still going through deciding what the structure will be, but Cogen said the club is in good hands.

"We ran that as a committee," Cogen said. "I just made sure they did what they were supposed to, but all of them had direct reponsibilities and did them well."