At this point you may have heard of the Pay For Patriotism scandal. Professional sports teams have entered into contracts with the military in return for various shows of patriotism. Allan Muir detailed the report a bit in Sports Illustrated and took the hockey angle:
Contracts between the Pentagon and teams from five pro sports leagues that were designed to promote military service cost taxpayers more than $10 million over the past four years, according to a report issued Wednesday by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.
The joint oversight report, entitled "Tackling Paid Patriotism," focused mainly on deals between the U.S. Department of Defense and the NFL. It did, however, name six NHL teams that it says accepted "paid patriotism" funds from various arms of the DOD in the fiscal years 2012 to '14.
Among the six NHL teams mentioned were the Dallas Stars. According to the report the Dallas Stars received $34,000 in tax payer money. This money went to fund:
season tickets, luxury suites and facilities to enhance [military] recruitment, but also:
• Opportunities for a soldier to deliver the puck at the start of home games.
• Featured soldier presentation and live recognition.
• On-ice swearing-in ceremonies.
• Pregame chalk talk with management and coaches.
• Opportunity to perform the national anthem.
We're going to steer clear of the politics of the issue. It may not be a big deal to you, but it will be a big deal to others. The facts though say that the Stars accepted money in return for "patriotic" acts, or benefits given to the military intended to aid in recruitment.
It's important to note that the story deals with fiscal years 2012 through 2014. There is no current information involved in the report. Stars senior director of communications Tom Holy was quoted in the article about the Stars role in the scandal:
"We have nothing ongoing with the military right now," said Tom Holy, Dallas' senior director of communications. "We do things to honor the military, like our Hometown Heroes program and our Military Appreciation Night, but nothing that is sponsored in any way. It's just something we do to pay tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces."
I spoke to Tom and he re-iterated the point. Currently "there are no partnerships or sponsorships" Holy said. The money mentioned in the report "ran through 2012-13 under an existing contract". The tone in everything the Stars have said is that they have not accepted money in return for honoring troops or patriotic acts under current ownership. The $34,000 mentioned in the report came from a contract that originated at some point before Tom Gaglardi and company took over in 2011. Prior to Gaglardi's purchase, the team was run by banks during the bankruptcy court process.
Where the contract exactly originated is unclear. What exactly it was for is unclear, it doesn't specifically state in the report that the money was given in return for honoring troops. The Stars just as easily could have provided benefits to help the military in recruitment with season tickets, suites, or other more material things. The point is we don't know what happened, but we do know that the Stars are saying it happened before current ownership took over and doesn't happen anymore.