Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is This Houston?! No, Its Iowa!

Instead of ballplayers coming out from cornfields, imagine hockey players coming out of large snowbanks

Today, at the AHL Board of Governors meeting, it is expected that the Wild's AHL affiliate will be allowed to move from Houston to Des Moines. The move will obviously be put up to a vote, and should pass without any issues.

The team will not be retaining the name Aeros either. That will die once their final game is played in Houston. When the team will move to Des Moines, they will simply be known as the Iowa Wild (I know, very creative).

The Wild have had their AHL team in Houston since 2001. So this will not be an easy move for either side. But in the end, it simply came down to the fact that the operators of the Toyota Center did not want to renew the Aeros lease because they felt they could make more money off of concerts and other events.

For those thinking attendance was the problem, it was not. Houston ranks 7th in the AHL with 258,122 total fans in 38 home games this season, for an average of 6,793 fans a game. And as HW points out today, the final regular season home game drew 13,506 fans in the Toyota Center (Give that HW article a read, as it salutes the good folks down in Houston).

Des Moines did not strike me as a great hockey market, so it will be interesting to see if they can match the Aeros attendance numbers. Their arena, the Wells Fargo Arena, does have a capacity of 17,000, but obviously they will not be filling that every night.

Houston has a fairly big airport, making it easier for players to get to wherever the Wild were, when they got called up. Now with the move to Des Moines, there may be more delays with callups getting to the team when players are getting on planes coming out of Des Moines (Heck, it may be easier for a player to just drive up to MSP from Des Moines to meet up with the team).

The only positive from this move to Iowa, is that fans will be able to take the 4 hour drive down to Des Moines and watch the team play. So one could expect a slight boost in attendance nightly from Twin Cities folks making the trek down there.

To be clear, the Wild made every effort to keep the team in Houston. They just simply were in a no win situation with the operators of the Toyota Center.

Once the playoffs end, this team will fold its tent and move to Iowa. So here's to a long playoff run, keeps the team in Houston for just a few more weeks longer than necessary!

Raise your glass to the Houston Aeros tonight, because their days are very numbered.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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