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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Mansfield OKs ice rink operated by Dallas Stars

Update: The Mansfield Independent School District voted to not fund the StarCenter project. Plans for the StarCenter will no longer be moving forward.

It all started with a mom – Jenny Conrad, a Mansfield shop owner whose children spend a lot of time on the ice. Her daughter Haley, 12, is a competitive figure skater. Her son Tyler, 8, plays hockey.

Since there are no ice rinks in Mansfield, the Conrads have to practice at facilities in other cities, such as the Parks Mall in Arlington. When that rink experienced a malfunction that melted the ice for a period of time, the family’s other options for skating venues were in Farmers Branch or Euless.

“Traffic was really bad trying to get over there,” Conrad said. “We were, like, why is there not a StarCenter closer to us? That’s kind of crazy.”

So Conrad approached the Dallas Stars about building a StarCenter in Mansfield, and over the past three years Dallas Stars Enterprises (DSE) and the City of Mansfield negotiated plans to build the Stars-operated public ice-skating facility off U.S. Highway 287 and East Broad Street.

On Feb. 8, the Mansfield City Council voted 6-0 to green light the StarCenter project (one councilmember, Larry Broseh, was away on business). The contingency is that the Mansfield Independent School District approves a partnership with the Dallas Stars that would give schools access to the rink for educational activities. Mansfield Councilman Steve Lindsey said he expects the school board to approve the deal later in February.

Mansfield’s StarCenter will be the eighth StarCenter in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Fort Worth-based Magee Architects will design and construct the $15.6 million facility, which will be between 78,000 and 80,000 square feet. The StarCenter will have two ice rinks, dressing room space, concessions and other amenities. DSE’s plan is to open the StarCenter by July 2017 to line up with fall hockey season.

The city is contributing over $13 million of the expected $15.6 million. Mansfield ISD is considering contributing $500,000. DSE is paying about $2.5 million up front in the form of prepaid rent and a security deposit.

The StarCenter will be built on city land, and DSE has a 30-year lease agreement with rent beginning at $600,000 a year. Rent will rise over time and cap at $660,000 a year. After 30 years, the StarCenter will belong to the city.

Broseh said public reaction to the project has been generally positive, although there have been some concerns about how the project will be funded. He was also concerned that the project was moving too quickly.

“If things are hurried and rushed along, then important ideas and documents can be missed,” he said. “For this large of a project for this city, it does bother me.”

Some council members also had concerns about how financially stable DSE would be in future years, Broseh said.

“The council has pushed hard to find out what the financial security of DSE is,” he said. “We’ve had a difficult time getting the information that would make us feel comfortable.”

But Jason Farris, chief operating officer of the Dallas Stars, said that StarCenters are a “small aspect” of the Dallas Stars organization from a monetary standpoint.

“Our core business, of course, is the sport of hockey and trying to win a Stanley Cup,” he said. “In doing that, it’s important that we establish a broad base of fans. It’s important that we really are rooted in the grassroots of the communities from which we draw our fans.”

That includes fans like Conrad, whose son looks up to players such as Stars center Tyler Seguin. Farris said DSE will consider having the team host open practices at the Mansfield location, something the team has done at other locations such as the StarCenter in Euless.

“I have a lot of respect for the Dallas Stars,” Conrad said. “They’ve bent over backwards to try to work with our city and with our citizens to try to make this happen.”

It’s not just hockey

The StarCenter is part of the City of Mansfield’s larger vision of developing part of the U.S. Highway 287 corridor into a commercial retail center, Mansfield City Councilman Steve Lindsey said.

The StarCenter will be built next to Fieldhouse USA, a volleyball and basketball facility under construction. Lindsey said the plan is to have both facilities open by 2017.

“We don’t want just a typical shopping center,” he said. “We want something that is more forward-looking and more of a town center, if you will. Part of that was looking at differentiating the developments that are there by amenities such as sporting venues.”

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