The Houston Aeros Are No More, R.I.P.
The Houston Aeros lost 7-0 to the Grand Rapids Griffins in Grand Rapids on Saturday night. With the loss the Aeros are done for this season, having lost the deciding game of round one of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. And with the loss, the Houston Aeros are done in Houston. They are no more.
John Royal Aeros players interact with the crowd following the team's last ever regular season home game.
The next time the Aeros play hockey, their home rink will be the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and the team will be known as the Iowa Wild. And come October, for the first time in 20 years, the city of Houston will not be hosting professional hockey games.
About ten days ago, just before the start of the playoffs, some Toyota Center flunkies came down to the team's locker room and after practice, they were grabbing players and asking them for their favorite memories to help commemorate the tenth anniversary of Toyota Center. One of the players, not to be named, responded with a puzzled "We're leaving, right?"
The Aeros were never appreciated by their Toyota Center landlords. Toyota Center officials reportedly requested a 300 percent increase over the team's already above-market-rate rent. The condition of the ice has always been questionable. There were problems with the team gaining access to the building. The brand-new big-boy video board malfunctioned often on the Aeros. The ticket system crashed right before the final regular season home game, stranding thousands of fans outside the arena because they could not claim their will-call tickets.
The bad guy is not the Aeros. The owner of the team, the Minnesota Wild, did not want to move the team. There was a good fan base in Houston, there were nice facilities and there was easy access to two large airports that could get players to wherever they needed to get them whenever they needed to get them there. But despite their best efforts, the Aeros just could not get a reasonable deal from Toyota Center.
There's kind of a strange karma issue involving Les Alexander, who runs Toyota Center, and the Rockets and the Aeros, and the whole CSN Houston debacle. The Aeros and the team's fans are suffering from the unreasonableness of Alexander and his lease demands just as Alexander and Rockets fans are suffering from the unreasonableness of Jim Crane and the Astros.