Houston Needs a National Hockey League Team: An Open Letter

Categories: Hockey, Sports

houstonaeros.jpg
Houston Aeros
RIP
Dear Whoever Has Enough Money To Buy Hockey Teams:

Two weeks ago my hockey-loving husband and I headed up to the Big D. to watch the NY Rangers take on the Dallas Stars. As transplants from New York, we were rooting for the Rangers, and (no surprise) they won. Regardless of victor, the American Airlines Arena was completely packed. As we pushed our way out of the crowd, we both mused to each other the same question:

Why in the hell doesn't Houston have a national hockey team?

When the Houston Aeros, Houston's AHL team, announced last year that they would not be returning to H-Town in the 2013-2014 season but rather picking up and moving to Des Moines, Iowa as the Iowa Wild, Houston lost the closest thing it had to a hockey pastime. The rumors as to why the Aeros split town have less to do with Houston's interest in the sport and more to do with cashola. Apparently, the Minnesota Wild, the Aeros' affiliate NHL team, couldn't come up with a lease agreement with the Toyota Center - someone wanted more money and someone wanted to pay less, you guess which was which.

If you had never been to an Aeros game, you missed out. It was a good old time. The Toyota Center wasn't packed to the brim, but there was always a good-sized crowd of people donning their green Aeros jerseys. The loss wasn't for lack of interest. In the 2011-12 season, Aeros' games were the fifth most attended in the league, and in the 2012-2013 they ranked in at number seven. In fact, over the past nine years the Aeros consistently landed in the top 10 most attended AHL teams in the league. Houstonians want their hockey.

Undoubtedly, an NHL team, as opposed to an AHL team, would bring in a better audience. And let's throw our hockey pucks down on the table: Houston needs an NHL team. Why? Where should I start?

How about with the little detail that Houston is the fourth largest city in the country and soon enough we will be No. 3. "But Houston is so hot," you say. So what? So's Dallas. Additionally, there is Florida, which has two hockey teams, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lighting, and it's not only hotter and smaller in both of those places, but also... it's Florida. California has three hockey teams and one of them is based on a horrible movie starring Emilio Estevez.


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29 comments
mlljr
mlljr

As a lifetime Houstonian, I have wanted an NHL team in Houston for many years.

barryjoseph
barryjoseph

As  exciting as an NHL team would be to have in Houston I fear a lot that was gained from the Aeros experience will be lost should an NHL team come to Houston.  For one it will be more difficult for those who have been Aeros fans for years to experience the same close to the rink action we grew accustomed to at the Toyota center.  The prices are sure to be outrageous for quality views.  Also the atmosphere will be different as well.  At Aeros games it was very common to see the same group of people show up game after game so the atmosphere was a very relaxed family like type. Personally I would love it if someone could find a way to get another Aeros Ahl team back to Houston after its fan base was robbed of their team. A rivalry with the Dallas Stars would definitely make things interesting in the NHL, but after so many years of getting accustomed to the Aeros experience I am not sure if an NHL team will be a good thing for Houston.

Jim Costello
Jim Costello

Sugarland Imperials are our newest Junior league team and the hockey culture here exists if you look for it! The Maple Leaf Pub, beer leagues, high school hockey, and more! Sure, I'd go to NHL games here, but doubt the League would allow Houston an expansion team.

Noelle A. Perry
Noelle A. Perry

i agree, i do not want an NHL team here. i couldn't afford the tickets. so why can't we support a decent minor-league hockey team? oh right...thanks les.

jcursi
jcursi

When did Texas legalize marijuana??? I must have totally missed it!!! It’s the only possible explanation for someone to once again suggest putting yet another NHL franchise in the American South!!! Seattle and Hamilton/ Toronto are the only possible destinations for a new franchise. And the Florida Panthers should be moved to the other city that loses that bid!!! Scraping the bottom of the barrel these days for would-be journalists!!!

tireddog01
tireddog01

Sure why not ?


After all, the memorandum of understanding for Alexander's playpen included a clause related to tax subsidies of up to 1mm/yr for an nhl entertainment business.


And I surely want to pay another entertainment biz to bring its show here.

Luis Mozo
Luis Mozo

I'm a lifelong houstonian and avid sports fan. I've been to hundreds of sporting events over the past 25 years. Imo, ice hockey is the most exciting game to watch in person. It's a long shot, but if we did ever get a major league hockey franchise here, it would be awesome.

Richie Kmack
Richie Kmack

Aeros were never NHL. The original team started in the old World Hockey Association in the 70's, even got Geordie Howe to play. The WHA was supposed to compete with more stuck-up NHL but never really took off.

Richie Kmack
Richie Kmack

I disagree with bringing the NHL to Houston. Why can't we support a decent baseball team? Houston is good for hockey, but not NHL. I grew up with the Atlanta Knights, who were a good IHL (minor league) team that could pack the Omni. The city got swept up within a few years, thinking that a big city of Yankee transplants that supports a top minor league team means instant NHL market. Games were never as much fun, as packed, nor as affordable, and now Winnipeg and Calgary have annual "Thanks Atlanta" nights. NHL tickets are expensive, and it is tough to make new fans in a city with 3 or 4 other major sports. The novelty wears out just like the Astros did.

James F Cairns
James F Cairns

Read the article sir .. They aren't NHL .., I disagree anyway, I'm from NY and never followed it there.. I doubt it would draw much attention here

aliberaltexan
aliberaltexan

Houston definitely needs an NHL team.  I think the problem is the NHL is having a lot of financial difficulty and are not expanding due to that financial issue.  Sigh.

lobomuerto11
lobomuerto11

I doubt the game you went to was packed...Dallas's average attendance for this season is 14,678.  That's less than 80% capacity.  I guess it depends on your definition of "packed".  Keep in mind the actual numbers are always lower than what they say because of all the tickets that were purchased but not used for whatever reason.  I've seen what Stars games look like on TV and I see huge gaps of empty seats all over the place in the lower bowl.  That's bad.  All of the warmer climate teams are filled with fair weather fans.  If the team is good and they are winning, they will eventually bring in lots of fans.  It's funny how in Canada, they almost always sell out games even if their team is terrible.

Even so, I agree that Houston would be a great place to expand. 

SarahBelham
SarahBelham

COSIGNED. If you have never been to a live hockey game I pity you. 

carpetbagger
carpetbagger

Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should. It's not only ridiculous but extremely wasteful to try and play a sport that requires sub-freezing in 80 degree heat.


If you're going to move to Houston, find activities that are appropriate to the local climate rather than burning tons of fossil fuels to try and shoehorn your home climate on Houston.


The same goes for Christmas decorations. Why are we building shrines to snow and cold-climate native pine trees here? We should look more to the Christmas traditions of Central America.

gmcjing
gmcjing

YES! Since transferring to Houston from Alberta 4 years ago I have often wondered why Houston has no NHL team. Without a doubt it is one of the most entertaining sports to watch live and there is certainly enough northern transplants here to make it profitable. I know I would be in line for season tickets if it ever happened.

Going to Aero games last year during the NHL lockout was awesome. Got to watch most of the pros from great seats for cheap. 

CoryGarcia
CoryGarcia moderator

I'm sorry, I was with you until you called The Mighty Ducks horrible.

Grinch
Grinch

Four of us just went to Dallas to see the Chicago Blackhawks play the Stars and we had a blast.  As Chicago natives we totally agree with the fact that H-town needs an NHL team.  I mean, Columbus, Ohio has an NHL team.  Really? 

dylansides
dylansides

The Astros novelty??? Are you high or just stupid? Less than 10 years ago the Astros were drawing over 3 million a season. 2013 attendance was HIGHER that 2012 attendance. The team has been in Houston since 1962 and have drawn just under 93 million for the regular season. HARDLY a novelty. The NHL would be awesome for Houston!

lobomuerto11
lobomuerto11

@carpetbagger Actually most of the hockey season would be played in mid to high 50's temperature ranges, not 80.  It's also not below freezing in the arenas, have you been to a hockey game?  Ice can stay ice without it being below freezing.  That's the biggest non-issue I've ever heard. 

The NHL is going to expand to 2 cities that are west of the Mississippi River.  One will most likely be Seattle,  and the other could be Houston.

carpetbagger
carpetbagger

@lobomuerto11 I grew up playing hockey and going to games in Minnesota. While indoor rinks were not at freezing temperatures, they were at temperatures relatively close to outdoor temperatures. In Houston average highs range from 60-80 degrees from February to March. Much hotter than the 35-60 range in Detroit, and thus more energy required to cool the arena. Even if you don't cool the arena, you still spend energy keeping the ice cool. Any way you slice it, it's more wasteful/polluting to play hockey in Houston.

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