I saw a fantastic article on the Athletic ranking the Top NBA owners.
That got me thinking about the professional sports teams in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and their owners.

There are currently 5 professional franchises in the metroplex that compete at the highest level of their sport. Being an owner of a sports team is the dream of most fans. Covering the Rangers, I know that there are plenty of armchair owners ready to spend ownership money each offseason.

What makes a good owner? In my opinion, a good owner has to want to win more than making money. However, they also need to be fiscal when necessary and make good business decisions.

This allows them to sustain the franchise and have it at least pay for itself. Making money should be the gravy on top. I also believe a good owner should hire the right people to run the player personnel while not meddling. Being in front of the camera a lot doesn’t take away points, as long as the owner isn’t the face of the franchise. With those criteria in mind, I decided to rank the five owners of the Cowboys, FC Dallas, Mavericks, Rangers, and Stars.

My criteria involve a combination of winning, spending, meddling, and anonymity.

It is purely my opinion, so if you have an issue, let me hear your list.

Photo: Brandon Dill/AP

1) Mark Cuban // Dallas Mavericks

Cuban is a dot.com billionaire who bought the Mavericks in 2000 from Ross Perot Jr. Before Cuban bought the team, the Mavericks had a 40% winning percentage in 20 years. From 2000 to the present, the Mavericks have won 1 NBA Championship, 2 Conference Championships, and 2 Division Titles. Before Cuban purchased the team, they had only won one division title.

Cuban wants to win more than making money. He is in front of the camera a lot, but he lets his front office and coaching staff do their stuff. He is also very loyal to his former players and isn’t afraid to spend money when necessary. The overall feeling is that the Mavericks are a well-run team and pointing in a positive direction.

I am not the biggest basketball fan, but I love that Cuban is a HUGE fan of basketball and the owner. It wasn’t about business for him as much as it was about his passion for the Mavericks, where he was a season ticket holder before buying the team.

2) Tom Gaglardi // Dallas Stars

Gaglardi is a hotel management magnet from Canada who bought the team in 2011 out of bankruptcy from Tom Hicks. Gaglardi put in Jim Lites and  Jim Nill right way, which was well respected around the league. Gaglardi has also bought the Texas Stars, an AHL affiliate and part of the Stars system.

Gaglardi gets high marks with me because I don’t know his face and couldn’t pick him out if he was standing next to me at Starbucks. That has the making of a good owner. He has poured money into the franchise and stuck with front office personal for consistency. He has roots in Texas, with his mother being a native of Longview, Texas. The Stars are another team who seems to improve every year with him as the owner. While the front office should get a lot of credit for that, they get their paychecks signed by the guy at the end of the table.

Photo: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

3) Ray Davis & Bob Simpson // Texas Rangers

Both Davis and Simpson made their money in the energy business. Like Gaglardi, Davis and Simpson were the big money guys who bought the team out of bankruptcy from Tom Hicks in 2010. Nolan Ryan was the group’s face the bought the team, but Davis and Simpson were the money. Both remained as Chairmen when Nolan departed for Houston. Since 2010 the Rangers have had 5 winning and 5 losing seasons. They have made the playoffs 4 times and been to the World Series twice.

Davis and Simpson can sometimes get a bad rap. Especially since they started to tighten the budget during COVID and the rebuild has had a setback. But they have spent money and aren’t afraid to when they see fit. They spent $132 million on 8 years of Adrian Beltre. They also spent $130 million over 7 years for Shin-Soo Choo. They had given large contracts to Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor and outbid everyone for Yu Darvish when he was posted out of Japan. They made a run at Anthony Rendon and offered over $30 million a year to do it. It was also rumored they were willing to up the offer, but Rendon’s agent Scott Boras never got back with Jon Daniels to counter the offer.

While they have spent money, they can also get frugal. This is counterproductive when they have asked the City of Arlington to pay for half of their new indoor stadium.

4) Clark Hunt // FC Dallas

I almost put him ahead of the Rangers, but admittedly was biased. Clark inherited the team from his father. Like Gaglardi, Davis, and Simpson, Hunt does tend to stay behind the scenes. He is also the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and an initial investor in Major League Soccer. Clark and his brother Dan are technically co-owners, but Clark is the CEO and Chairman of both the Chiefs and FC Dallas. They are also the sons of the late Lamar Hunt, who made his fortune through oil was the son of oil tycoon H.L. Hunt.

FC Dallas were called the Dallas Burn from 1996 to 2004 before Lamar Hunt re-branded them FC Dallas to coincide with the new stadium in Frisco for the 2005 season. They have never won an MLS championship but have made it to the playoffs multiple times. They played for their only  MLS Cup in 2010, losing to Colorado.

5) Jerry Jones // Dallas Cowboys

Before I get all sorts of feedback, let me clear something up. I am a Dallas Cowboy fan, so don’t tell me I am just a hater. Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 from Bum Bright for $140 million. It was very soon after he took over that he did one of only a hand full of things I give him props for. He fired longtime coach Tom Landry. Although Landry was beloved, he had not stayed in step with the changes to the NFL and needed to go. Jones did it quickly. Then he did the second thing I give him props for. He hired Jimmy Johnson to be the head coach and make player personnel moves. That lead the Cowboys to 3 Super Bowls from 1992-1995.

It was after the 1993 Super Bowl that Jones’ ego took over, and the rest is history. Since the 1995 Super Bowl win (Barry Switzer coaching Johnsons team), the Cowboys have not made it back to the NFC Championship game and only won one playoff game. Jones holds the title of President, General Manager, and Owner. His player personnel and coaching moves have been disastrous except for the small dalliance with Bill Parcells.

Behind the scenes, Parcels made the player moves while letting Jones claim the credit. It seemed like a perfect match until Jones wanted Terrell Owens over Parcels objections. This started the end of the Parcels era, who promptly retired on short notice after the Cowboys’ loss to the Vikings in 2006. Jones can be too loyal and hold onto coaches or players long past their prime. This is one of his biggest flaws as a GM. He hires yes men for coaches and allows players to come directly to him behind their backs.

Being ranked number 5 should not be a surprise. Take out the 1992-1995 teams built by Jimmy Johnson, the record as an owner, GM or President are bad. Any GM with the track record of Jones would have been fired 20 years ago. The team does not look like a team on the rise. Mike McCarthy was another questionable hire. A washed-up former Super Bowl winner who wasn’t wanted anywhere else around the league. With the injury to Dak Prescott, nothing looks good as we advance except the eventual return of their young QB.

There you have it—my rankings of the five professional teams in the DFW Metroplex.
Change my mind.

Featured Image: AP
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