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World-class hockey and hockey fever has made its way to Frisco, despite the surprising juxtaposition of ice and Texas heat.
“The Dallas Stars have grown right along with the city of Frisco,” said Farris. “When we came to Texas in 1993, people were confused. Hockey in Texas? Since we came to Frisco in 2001 and established ourselves at Dr Pepper Arena, we’ve grown — and interest in hockey has grown — by leaps and bounds.”
The NHL Dallas Stars use Frisco’s Dr Pepper Arena and the connected Dr Pepper StarCenter as the team’s corporate headquarters and practice ice.
Dr Pepper Arena, which seats 5,000 for hockey, is a public-private partnership with the City of Frisco, the Frisco Independent School District and the Economic Development Corp. More than $36 million in renovations have been completed since the arena was built in 2003. Most recently, community leaders expanded the arena to include enough space to accommodate every Frisco high school’s graduation ceremonies.
Adjacent is Dr Pepper StarCenter, which has one sheet of ice for high school hockey and figure skating, as well as amateur leagues. Dr Pepper StarCenter has seating for 750.
“When we came, there was virtually no hockey in the Metroplex,” said Farris. “Now, our Frisco high school combined team has won the High School Hockey Division II National Championships, the first time ever for a Texas team. They beat a team from Montana, of all things.”
The Stars and Frisco regularly host championships and tournaments, such as the 2017 USA Hockey Championships. The Dallas Stars have 350 programs in schools around the DFW Metroplex.
“It’s an ant farm at the Dr Pepper Arena,” said Farris. “The Stars have open practices so we always have kids and families at the arena. When we’re not practicing, the ice is used constantly by Frisco residents and the surrounding communities. Frisco identified, early on, that it wanted all its facilities to be hospitable to its residents, in addition to being attractive to its pro sports franchises.”
That openness works to the Stars’ advantage, as well.
“Our goal is to get sticks in hand,” said Farris. “Seeing players practice gives kids something to aspire to. They can visualize themselves as NHL players, which, in turn, can be enough to set them on the path. The byproduct is that young residents become interested in hockey, not only as fans, but as players. I predict we’ll see a lot of outstanding pro hockey players come from Texas in the next decade.”