“Mr. Hockey” helped the Iowa Stars unveil their jerseys and their home arena to season ticket holders last night.
Seventy-seven-year-old Gordie Howe is often called the Babe Ruth of his sport and he said the downtown Des Moines arena in which the Iowa Stars will play is a far cry from the outdoor rinks where he started playing the game. Howe called Wells Fargo Arena an “absolutely beautiful building” that’s a “momument to the city.” Howe urged Iowans to buy a ticket for the Iowa Stars, which will be playing minor league hockey in the American Hockey League.
“That is the stock that feeds the NHL,” Howe said. “I’ll be honest with you, if you have the opportunity to go see a practice, you see ’em going through the motions and when the game starts it kicks ’em into gear and the reason for that is all those seats are filled.” Howe said when new hockey teams were added in southern cities during his years as a pro, it was tough to play in some of those cities because there wasn’t a full crowd. Howe said he’s confident there’ll be a full house for the Iowa Stars. “I just have a gut feeling,” Howe told the crowd. He also counseled the coaches not to get too irate when the players make mistakes.
“You never make a mistake if you don’t try, so look at a mistake as a learning process because that’s how hockey players are born,” Howe said. “God only knows how many mistakes I made.”
Howe played hockey for 32 seasons and was selected for 29 All-Star teams. He retired when he was 52. John Pettit, president of the Iowa Stars, says it’s hard to believe the arena is done, and the season will open in October. “What a building,” Pettit said.
“We are so proud to call the Wells Fargo Arena our home and everyone in Iowa should be proud of this facility.” The arena was financed, in part, by a state grant. Not only did fans get to see and hear Gordie Howe, they also got to see the Stanley Cup. “The NHL ends its strike and we have their cup here in Iowa, so we’ve got the cup,” Pettit, the team’s president, told the crowd. Kirby Schlegel, vice chairman of the Iowa Stars, monitored construction of the arena.
“It’s going to be one of the finest arenas in the American Hockey League and I think it rivals any NHL arena,” he says. “It’s beautiful.” There’s a new incentive to people who buy season tickets before August 1st. The names of new season ticketholders will be placed in a drawing and the winner will win a walk-on role in a Hollywood movie. Howard Baldwin, a Hollywood producer who also owns a piece of the Iowa Stars, was involved in the recent hit movie “Ray.”
Baldwin says the last time he did one of these raffles for another hockey team he owns, the winner ended up being in the movie Sahara which was filmed in Morocco. Find more about the Iowa Stars’ upcoming season online.