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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Uh, About That Austin AHL Franchise

So I read the post from earlier today about the provincial awarding of an AHL franchise for Austin to be called the Texas Stars. But I wouldn't be so fast about saying that there will be hockey in Austin this fall.

The deal has one huge contingency. The Dallas Stars still have to purchase a franchise and move it to Austin. Absent that, there will not be a team in Austin because there is no team to put in Austin. But the deal is rather unique in that it is a member of the league without having a team and it will purchase the first team that becomes available for purchase. This will allow Edmonton to keep its inactive team.

Now I fully expect to see hockey in Austin next season. The AHL is doing everything possible to get this deal done, and AHL Commissioner David Andrews was pretty clear last month that there would be AHL hockey in Austin come next fall. But I'm also sure that, at the time, David Andrews didn't know that Tom Hicks was going to start going into default on his debt service involving the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers.

I hate to be going all negative here because I really look forward to a triangle series next year. And I fully expect it to happen. But there are still some big items on the check list that need to be handled. And I just didn't want anybody to forget.

Now how about those Aeros?


Fred Trask said...

I thought it had been announced that the Stars were trying to lease the dormant Roadrunner franchise for one year from Edmonton. This would allow the Stars to play in Cedar Park next year but it does nothing for the long term solution.

Edmonton wishes to keep the franchise and not sell it. This may leave Springfield as the odd man out but only time will tell. With Springfield being the "home office" and with Springfield having hockey since 1935 they will probably find a way to keep a team there. They have a clear advantage with their travel schedule as well.

There is also a "suspension fee" of $360K or so that Edmonton has to pay every year for the Roadrunners. Leasing it to Dallas removes that expense.

John Royal said...

Fred: There's never been an annoucement re this that I know of. There was a news story last month re this in which Edmonton was going to lease Springfield to Dallas, and Dallas was going to move it to Austin, but that can't happen because Edmonton doesn't own Springfield.

And it's possible that Edmonton could lease it's dormant franchise to Dallas, and from what David Andrews said last month, that is what the AHL thought, but Edmonton, at the time we talked to Andrews, seemingly didn't want to do that.

Still, leasing the franchise from Edmonton for a year doesn't solve the basic problem in that the Stars still don't own the team and that if Edmonton ever wishes to start up again, it can, which could possibly leave Austin out in the cold.

This move is probably going to happen. But I just wanted to point out that there are still a couple of obstacles out there that the press release glossed over.

Fred Trask said...

John: I've not seen anything that says it was a done deal either but it was the Edmonton papers touting it. Perhaps Dallas is the one who would like a more permanent solution.

The deal between Edmonton and Dallas has noting to do with Springfield. Edmonton has a dormant franchise. They could lease that to Dallas for the year and that has no effect on Springfield.

Come 2011-2012 Edmonton could choose not to renew the lease of the AHL franchise they own to Dallas and there would be no hockey in Dallas unless they acquired a franchise. Edmonton could place it's franchise in a city and play there. Springfield would then have a franchise but no team and Dallas a team but no franchise.

As far as Springfield goes I say it may leave them out in the cold if they have a franchise but no one wants to play there. Dallas could continue to do what it has done and spread the players out over several teams.

I do not see the league allowing this to happen though. At the end of the day something has to give. Edmonton or some other franchise will have to be sold to Dallas. Somehow I doubt it will be Springfield that gets left without a team though.

The fact the Board of Governors approved Austin to a limited membership, and worded it such that Austin has one year to secure a franchise, leads me to believe that a deal has been made for one year. The only franchise out there that is available is the dormant Edmonton franchise.

I may be reading too much into things but it's all I can see that makes sense.

What I see is that the 2009-2010 hockey year WILL have a Dallas Stars AHL team in Cedar Park. After that is conditional upon the purchase of an AHL franchise.

John Royal said...

Fred, we appear to be having an interblog semantics battle which, looking as we're the only ones commenting, no one else seems to give a damn about.

I'm pretty sure there will be AHL hockey in Austin next year. And I agree that since the board approved this deal, they've got something in mind.

But the Canadian article said Edmonton would end up putting a franchise in Oklahoma City, and David Andrews told us that the only way that would happen would be if the ownership of the OKC CHL team asked to get into the AHL because otherwise the AHL will not intrude on another league's territory.

And as it is, Springfield not only owns an AHL team, unlike Dallas, it currently fields an AHL team, unlike Edmonton. It seemed to me that the AHL figured that Edmonton would sell to Dallas and Dallas would set up that inactive team in Austin. But it also appears that Edmonton likes owning a franchise, they just don't like owning an active franchise.

All that I'm saying is that there are still a lot more things to be done before this come to be and I just think the AHL is trying to cover all of the bases in case it falls through. I'm still not confident that Hicks will be able to field a franchise in Austin because of his own financial problems, but for the AHL to make it in Austin, it's got to start getting things in place now, it can't wait until everything is official. And this way, if it all falls apart, then the League can say, hey don't blame us, blame Edmonton and Dallas.

Fred Trask said...

Ok. I think we agree :)

With QC moving to Abby maybe OKC isn't where Edmonton wants to be. Perhaps they'll end up in Pacific Northwest.