Texas Brahmas complete sale, announce new ownership

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas – After a fourteen-year stint, the Texas Brahmas’ majority ownership was sold Friday to a new, local investment group headed by Fort Worth businessman Mike Atkinson.   The conclusion of the 2011-12 season was the team’s 15th year of operation and 14th with the team’s current ownership and management group. Stuart Fraser was the longest tenured owner in the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL)/Central Hockey League (CHL). He maintained ownership into the team after September 11, 2001 when his firm Cantor Fitzgerald was hardest hit at the World Trade Center tragedy.   “As stated for many years, we have searched for local ownership,” Fraser said. “Our commitment has been to maintain hockey in Tarrant County which we have done. Unfortunately, I personally am unable to be involved in many day-to-day decisions and we feel this is the best opportunity for the fans to have a committed ownership group which has connections to the area. I personally wish to thank all of the fans and sponsors for the loyal support through both winning and losing seasons.”    The original Fort Worth Brahmas played one season (1997-98) in the WPHL under an ownership group created by Ernie Horne coached by Bill McDonald. The team reached the WPHL finals that year.   In July, 1998 the WPHL granted a new franchise to former NHL goaltender Andy Moog and a local investor group. Mike Barack joined the franchise as its first and only General Manager. Stuart Fraser became an investor early in the 1998-99 season becoming majority owner in a short time period. The team played its home games at the Fort Worth Convention Center and Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The team reached the Conference Finals in the first year of operation under head coach Terry Menard.   The team competed for two seasons in Fort Worth with the Fort Worth Fire sharing both local facilities. The Fire ceased operations at the conclusion of the 1998-99 season.   The Brahmas joined the Central Hockey League in 2001-02 when the CHL and the WPHL entered into a joint operating agreement.   At the end of the 2005-06 season, the Brahmas suspended operations after failing to reach an agreement with the City of Fort Worth on its team lease terms.   The Brahmas did not play in the 2006-07 season and relocated to the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills prior to the 2007-08 season.  The team also joined forces with the NYTEX Sports organization led by Dr. Salvatore and Frank Trazzera.   Since the move, the team has reached the post-season in each of the past five years, including a President’s Cup championship in 2008-2009 under head coach Dan Wildfong. The team’s championship was a 4-1 series win against the Colorado Eagles with the trophy being raised on May 9, 2009.   Barack joined the team in July, 1998 after having spent 15 years in sales, broadcasting, and public relations in the American and International Hockey Leagues. The St. Louis native became a fixture with the Brahmas having been involved in the team’s daily operations from that time.   “I want to thank all of the fans, sponsors, and employees who have been able to keep the Brahmas going throughout many trials, tribulations, and successes,” Barack said. “There are many people who have helped the Brahmas maintain its position within the community both on and off the ice. I am proud to have been part of all the aspects of the team which has been a tremendous learning process both personally and professionally.”   The Brahmas won various league honors during this time including Most Improved Franchise (twice), Executive of the Year (Barack/Dan Burgers), and several sales and marketing awards. The team won both a Governor’s Cup (best regular season) and President’s Cup Trophy (League championship) since it’s inception.   The Brahmas are proud to have initiated many community programs during the past decade including Healthy Goals, several Cool School games, Blacktop Brahmas, Corporate Care, Seats for Soldiers, as well as thousands of donation requests and player appearances throughout Tarrant County. The team was also heavily involved with amateur hockey.   Many of the Brahmas’ current employees and staff will remain part of the organization. Team President Mike Barack has taken a Corporate Ambassador position with the Dallas Stars in the National Hockey League.   The Brahmas as a franchise would like to thank all fans, season ticket holders, sponsors, employees, players, the CHL, the cities of Fort Worth and North Richland Hills, and volunteers for its support during the team’s tenure and wish good luck to the newest ownership group who have pledged to keep the Brahmas in Tarrant County.
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