If there was anyone still holding out hope that things would do a 180 and the Aeros would find a Disney style happy ending, you can stop now, and proceed through the stages of grief. The Wild have officially announced the move to Iowa. The Wild did not confirm the name of the new team.
Here is the release:
MINNESOTA WILD STATEMENT ON
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE AFFILIATE
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that its American Hockey League (AHL) developmental affiliate will relocate from Houston, Texas, to Des Moines, Iowa, beginning with the 2013-14 season.
"Our organization has enjoyed tremendous support from the loyal, passionate hockey fans in Houston since 2001," Wild Assistant to the General Manager/Aeros General Manager Jim Mill said. "There is a great hockey history in Houston, beginning with the Apollos in 1965, and continuing with the Aeros in the WHA, IHL and AHL. We are honored to have been a part of this hockey tradition."
"We are grateful to our corporate and community partners, as well as our hard-working staff in Houston," Mill added.
"We were not able to find agreement on terms of a new arena lease which would allow us to continue to successfully operate our franchise. We thank Toyota Center for the partnership we've had since moving there in 2003," Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka said.
"We have enjoyed a very strong relationship with the Aeros dating back to Toyota Center's inaugural 2003 season. Both parties worked diligently and in good faith during this process, but unfortunately we were unable to reach an agreement. We wish the Aeros continued success," Houston Rockets/Clutch City Sports & Entertainment CEO Tad Brown said.
"On behalf of our Board of Governors, I would like to thank the fans of the Houston Aeros for the terrific support they have shown their team and the American Hockey League for the last 12 years," American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews said.
And there you have it. Play out the playoffs, back the trucks and head to Iowa. Should be interesting to see what some of the players have to say about this.
In the "Take it for what it is worth" file, I exchanged emails with a former high ranking employee on the business side of the company that owned the Iowa Stars before they moved to Texas.
This employee had nothing promising to say about the hockey market in Des Moines. They said that the Wild were "Bunch of boneheads in moving the team to Des Moines. It is not a hockey town and they will be looking to move in a couple of years."
Asked why this would be, if it is something about the market, the answer was, "They have no interest in hockey there." They said it was not a marketing issue, as they believe there is "little to no correlation between marketing and ticket sales for hockey in the US," adding "When the team is winning, people come out, when they are not....they don't come out. Plus the Wells Fargo arena won't give them a good lease. They already have two "pro" teams there."
It will certainly be something to watch if the lease is something that can be reported. Let's hope for the sake of relations with Houston that this really is a better deal for the Wild.