The Last Ever (Possibly Maybe Forever) Disappointing Stand of the Houston Aeros
This time two years ago, the Houston Aeros were making their final push to secure a Western Division playoff spot. They were on a spurt of a fantastic play that would propel them through the end of the season into the Calder Cup finals, where they came up just short of the AHL championship.
Are the Aeros about to disappear on Houston again?
Two years ago, the team was packing the Toyota Center. The players were happy. The coaches were happy. The fans were ecstatic. The future looked bright. But that was two years ago.
Now the Aeros are in the middle of a desultory ten-game home stand that, instead of propelling them into the playoffs, has them poised on the brink of missing out on postseason action. But this ten-game stretch, which ends next Saturday, might not only see the team blowing a playoff spot, it might also mark the end of the franchise's tenure in Houston.
The Aeros' lease with the Toyota Center is up at the end of this season, and though the parties are negotiating and have been negotiating throughout the season, the odds in favor of the team staying in Houston are dropping more rapidly than Astros left fielder Chris Carter dropping easy fly balls.
"We're still talking," Aeros GM Jim Mill said yesterday. "We're still talking. We're still in negotiations, talking to Toyota Center."
The Aeros have seemingly been set on a move since even before the season started, with rumors of negotiations to move the team to Des Moines, Iowa, dominating talk. There's also been mention of a relocation to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where the Minnesota Wild, the owner of the Aeros, are supposedly setting up a junior league franchise. And just last week, the rumors erupted with talk that the Aeros will be moving to Peoria, Illinois, a city that's losing its team not because of attendance but because the team has been sold to the folks who own the Vancouver Canucks and who want to move the team closer to Vancouver.
But with the season fast approaching an end, those people hoping for closure might have to keep on waiting. That would include season ticket holders, who have yet to receive information regarding ticket renewals for next season.
"It depends on negotiations," Mill says about whether a lease renewal will be announced before the end of the season. "It's all depending on how that goes."