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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Porking the Chops

While we've been understandably paying more attention to the happenings in Minnesota (and Houston) -- and me with Phoenix -- there have been some more strange things going on up in Des Moines with the non-existent Chops.

As you might remember, Anaheim suddenly ended its affiliation with the Chops, and it came out that the owners of the Chops had failed to make agreed affiliation payments to the Ducks. It also came out that the owners of the Chops used the franchise as a collateral for a loan in 2008, which is a violation of AHL rules.

And this week, the owners informed Des Moines officials that they want to sell the AHL franchise -- possibly to Dallas -- move the team out of Des Moines, then replace the team with a CHL franchise. Des Moines officials (and the people who operate the arena) aren't too thrilled by this plan, and for now, they plan to hold the team owners to a contract signed two years ago which locks the owners into a 10-year non-relocation agreement forbidding the team from moving during the terms of the lease. If the team were to move, then the county would be entitled to liquidated damages, which are currently listed at about $12.5 million.

I'm interested in seeing how this plays out as, it's possible, the AHL could be locked into 28 teams for awhile because of this. This ownership group has burned through two NHL teams in two years, and with the financial shenanigans involving them and the Ducks, I can see other NHL teams being a little hesitant to get into business with them. And I can see the AHL being hesitant to continue doing business with these guys, though, since the guys own one of the 30 AHL franchises, there's not much the AHL can do about it. And with Tom Hicks' financial problems, you've got to wonder if he would be willing eat the $12.5 million in liquidated damages along with the cost of purchasing the team.

But frankly, I've got no idea of what's going to happen with this team. That's the hockey business though, I guess. Fun isn't it.


Lax Guy said...

We are already waiting in on pins and needles in DM. It seems that a local ownership group attempted to buy the franchse form the Schlegels earlier this year for a rumored $6 million. Despite the financial problems that you decribed, the Schlegels backed out of the sale.
Based on them backing out and the events of the last year concerning the Stars, the nonpayment of the Ducks, and the proposal to move to CHL, it is definitely starting to look like their intention for a while now has been to sell to Hicks to move to Austin. Their offices are near each other so it is fairly conceivable. Basically they screwed us over to help their buddy.

Anonymous said...

Why sign contracts, when they are seemingly disregarded willy nilly?

Forecheck said...

Silly Season continues.....

Yes, why honor contracts these days? Just wait for the government to print more money we don't have to bail you out.

My guess is the franchise just folds, along with the parent company.

Anonymous said...

Chops, chop front office to 3

Anonymous said...

So the Chops have lost a million bucks over, I'm assuming, four years of existance.

I'm just wondering how much money the Aeros lose each season. $250,000 /yr for an NHL owner can be considered a training expense.

Anonymous said...

Ooops...that was my post above...sorry.

Forecheck said...

@#$%$ !! "Return" key!

Anonymous said...

The Aeros probably lose a similar number. Prior to signing their new deal with the Toyota Center the Aeros were very close to going to Des Moines. Garrity and the uppers didn't talk much about it until after the fact. Minnesota would like to have their farm team closer, and the Toyota Center is an expensive building to play in and the Aeros make virtually nothing from concessions and parking.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

I am all for having folks leaving comments anonymously ... but when things like this are posted without sources ("the Aeros were very close to going to Des Moines") folks need to remember to take that with a grain of salt.

I do NOT completely dispute this claim in case you are wondering. I too know the Aeros had "discussions" about being moved to Des Moines, and it's my opinion that they'll one day end up closer to St. Paul.

But don't go throwing the word "very" around unless you can back that up with something other than conjecture. They were not *very* close to moving a few years ago. They were only going to move if the right set of circumstances presented themselves. Obviously, that did not happen.

Great comment by the way ... and thanks for visiting the blog. And if you do have information to contradict what is fact, step up and let of us know... and we'll gladly look into it.

Or even better, if you are someone that does have first hand knowledge of what went down, kindly agree to go on the record.

We'll send you our real names, addresses and first borns to get that kind of scoop. OK, so scratch that last offer, my kid's a lefty.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could go on record Andrew. But it's true. They were close to gone and did a good job of keeping that quiet and from people like you. Heads would have rolled otherwise. You know how it is around here. I didn't say they were leaving as a result of Iowa folding shop. I just find it interesting. I don't think they are going to go anywhere right now. As a side note they can escape the TC lease fairly cheap if they want to.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Based on language used in your recent post, I thank you for revealing your identity to me.

Whether or not that was intentional or not, I won't guess. But thank you.

I certainly hope you continue to contribute ...

FYI -- There have been two occasions where the Aeros were linked to rumors about leaving for Des Moines.

First, in 2004: http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2004_3760242

Then again, in 2008 ... and here is a story that mentions the new lease that anonymous' brings up (http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2008_4559119)