The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that its Board of Governors has approved the transfer of ownership of the Texas Tornado membership.
The new ownership group is led by Bill Yuill, president of Consolidated Sports Holdings USA, Inc.
A native and resident of Medicine Hat, Alberta, Yuill, who is also chairman and CEO of The Monarch Corporation, a privately-owned company with three operating divisions - communications, investments and sports franchises - has owned and operated successful baseball and hockey teams for over three decades.
“Since 1999, the Texas Tornado has been one of the premier junior hockey organizations not only in the NAHL, but all of North America, and we’re excited for Bill Yuill and Consolidated Sports Holdings to carry on that winning tradition,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “His business experience and expertise, along with his success owning and operating hockey teams, speaks for itself.”
“We’re proud to become members of the North American Hockey League and participate in its continued growth and development,” said Yuill. “We see a bright future.”
Consolidated Sports Holdings executive vice president Gary Gelinas, who boasts extensive experience owning and managing sports franchises, will oversee the operations of the Tornado.
“I’m delighted with the opportunity to become established in the Dallas market,” Yuill added. “Over the years, our company has operated franchises in seven different states, but this will be one of the first ones in Texas.”
The Tornado plays its home games out of the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco. One of the premier junior hockey facilities in North America, the recently renovated arena also serves as the practice home of the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
“The Texas Tornado has built a successful following here in North Texas and we are very excited to be part of that continued tradition under Bill Yuill and Consolidated Sports Holdings,” said Randy Locey, executive vice president for the Dallas Stars and Dr Pepper Arena. “We look forward to working with Bill and Gary and continue growing the sport of hockey in Texas.”
Under the team’s previous owners, Bob and Kirby Schlegel, of Schlegel Sports Group, the Tornado solidified itself as one of the elite junior hockey programs in North America, on and off the ice.
The Tornado won three straight national championships from 2004-06 and seven NAHL regular-season division titles thanks to seven straight 40-plus-win seasons from 1999-07. The Tornado has also developed and moved over 80 players onto the NCAA and professional ranks (four of its former players skated in the NHL this season).
“Bob and Kirby have been at the forefront of helping the NAHL evolve into the best junior hockey league in North America, and we can’t thank them enough for the commitment they’ve shown over the years,” said Frankenfeld. “Their involvement has done so much for the Frisco community, the fans, and, most importantly, the players and their success.”
“I’d like to thank the Schlegel family and the Dallas Stars for their cooperation and support throughout the transition,” said Yuill.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)