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Title: Vice President and General Counsel Location: Dallas Age: 36 Good Sport Lance Lankford, a former Michigan All-State high school hockey player, balances the two competing interests of Center Operating Co. � the Dallas Stars and the Dallas Mavericks. Jim Lites, president and CEO of the Stars, says Lankford does an outstanding job at mediating between the two factions. “We compete for dates and times and attention. The staff at COC [needs] to represent the interests of the company and steer the rapids that exist between the two teams,” Lites says. Lites has known Lankford since Lankford was a second-year law student and intern for the Detroit Red Wings, back when Lites was executive vice president of that team. Lankford made an impression on Lites and other managers who jumped from the Red Wings to the Stars in 1993. After a year in private practice, Lankford accepted an offer with the Stars in 1995. With the Stars and later Southwest Sports Group, he juggled agreements with players, sponsors, lenders, municipalities and vendors regarding the Stars, the Texas Rangers and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. In addition to Lankford’s first-rate legal skills, Lites respects his colleague’s work ethic. “He’s good at anticipating problems, fixing it without a whole lot of hoopla. He’s got a hockey player’s mentality. He’s an in-the-trenches guy,” Lites says. That’s why Lites sent Lankford over to COC when the owners of the Stars and the Mavericks established the company to operate the American Airlines Center. Lankford had already begun representing COC while at Southwest Sports, so it was an easy transition. Aside from the mountain of contracts involved with serving two major sports teams and facilitating hundreds of off-season events at the AA Center, Lankford has gotten a crash course in Texas state politics. Not only was COC on the front line to lobby for the arena’s construction, Lankford worked with former state legislator David Cain to obtain passage of the Industry Public Entertainment Facilities Act, S.B. 1380. The legislation ensures sponsorship and advertising rights for owners and operators of sports and entertainment venues. Lankford and Cain formed a coalition of interested parties, crafted the legislation and met with legislators. “We were able to do exactly as we wanted to at the end of the process,” Lankford says. Now that the arena is running smoothly and he has fine-tuned his contractual forms and specific procedures for dealing with insurance claims, Lankford is concentrating on maintenance. But he gets to relax and watch a game or two sometimes after work, even though he’s still on the clock as long as he’s in the arena. Notes Lankford, “It’s not too bad to have an office here at the building.”

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