Houston Needs a National Hockey League Team: An Open Letter
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.