Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's getting kind of warm in here: An update on the Toyota Center Lease

Last week, we had a few people tell us that they read in the Chronicle that the Aeros were leaving Houston and that it was a done deal. There were also a few people that mentioned this to us in the comments section of one of our home game stories from last week.

And we were like, "What the ... ?"

So we did what any normal person would do - we Googled it. It took awhile, but we finally found the Chronicle/Aeros reference literally buried in a Ken Hoffman column. Whether or not you don't like him does not matter. The guy is random, which really makes the following lines so curious coming from a column entitled "Pethouse Pet of the Week: Jan. 13:"

(Ideal home: Where will the Houston Aeros play next season? Toyota Center is just too big for the small crowds the Aeros draw. They need to find a more "intimate" ice rink. I'm betting there will be an announcement soon)

Come on Scooby, help us out!
Now it is no secret that the Aeros lease with the Toyota Center is up after this season. They signed a 5-year deal after the 2007-08 season, and that comes to an end when this season is officially over. I think many people are so nervous because this is by far the longest its ever gone to renew the deal.

The Aeros and Wild are on the record from last year as saying they have done and will do everything they can, within reason ($$$$$) to keep the team in Houston. I believe them based on who I have talked to, but I also understand that when business comes to business ... well, money always wins.

So what about the odd/random comment in the Hoffman column? Them staying or going has nothing to do with the size of the rink ... they have been here for 19 years, and have consistently been in the top 10 in the league's attendance recently.

The line that sticks out to me is "I'm betting there will be an announcement soon ... " Someone told Hoffman something, and this thing is about to get really interesting either way.

In the summer, I thought there was an 80 percent chance the Aeros would stay, then it went down to 70 around training camp. When we got past Thanksgiving, my faith dropped to 60 percent. Now, I am afraid the Aeros will be forced out of Houston. I think there is only a 20-percent chance the Aeros (as an affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) sign another multi-year lease agreement with the Toyota Center.

I really do think the Wild wants to keep them here, but as we've said on this blog several times before ... it has to make sense financially. And I don't think it does any more.


Anonymous said...

At this stage of the negotiations I would say the odds of retaining the Aeros in Houston are zero.

Maybe Les will buy his own ahl/echl team.

Anonymous said...

Until (if) a new Reliant Arena is built sometime in the future, the only current viable choice for keeping the Aeros in Houston, is Toyota Center, unless you want to consider the Berry Center in Cypress (11,000 capacity), and Merrell Center in Katy (7,200), but neither of these facilities currently have an ice surface, plus the unknown support a hockey team would receive playing that far out of town. I do feel that since nothing has been announced by either side at this late date, our affiliation with the Wild is ending. Hopefully, this doesn't mean we are without hockey next season, but maybe we'll find out soon.

Forecheck said...

Ok, start forming the carpools to Austin...

Forecheck said...

I’ve been thinking tonight about a possible scenario we might have overlooked. Warning, unbridled speculation to follow.

Is it possible that Alexander is not only looking to buy an AHL team in general, but is specifically pursuing the Aeros?

Although I don’t have a list, the Wild are a minority in owning their own affiliate. One reason to own your affiliate is to have some control where they play and not having to deal with minor league owners, who can sometimes be a pain in the butt (read: Iowa Chops). But ownership means you have to run the thing day-to-day – all the operations headaches are yours. Leopold wasn’t the guy who bought the Aeros from Mr. Watson, he got them as part of the deal. Maybe he is thinking differently now.

Then again, the Aeros are small change (maybe $10MM, certainly less than $25MM)to billionares.

This is all speculation, of course. For all I know, the Aeros are moving to Minneapolis for a year then off to Souix City or wherever.

Anonymous said...

Chronicle article and blog tonite about lease issue - Reliant Arena not an option, sounds like this will end poorly for team.

Les is claiming they are turning away concerts because of Aeros dates, which seems farfetched to me.

John Royal said...

Reliant Arena, refurbished or not, will never be a viable option. Sunday games will be nearly impossible because of the Texans, and most of March would not be viable because of the rodeo.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

A poster on Clutch Fans (Houston Rockets message board) seems to "know" what he's talking about ...

He even threw in a nice prediction, too.


Anonymous said...


Forecheck said...

Interesting - might have an available NHL franchise for Le$