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

Friday, May 4, 2012

Things that make you go, Hmmmmmmm

Famous Song? Yes ... Famous catch phrase, yeah ... that, too.
But recent news in the minor league hockey world has to make you think a little bit about where Wild prospects might end up after 2012-13.

SUX (Airport code for Sioux Falls) has a nice arena. 
The Toyota Center lease is up after next season, and Aeros president David Burke confirmed to me late during the season that the team is working with the building to hammer out a new lease. They do play in one of the league's nicest facilities ... and they pay a pretty penny for that.

They are also exploring other places for the team to play ... in Houston. Hey, you're not smart if you're not looking for the best deal, right?

Last week, a minor league sports ownership group (Sioux Falls Sports, LLC) in Sioux Falls announced that it sold out to former the Wild's former owner and that the current COO for Minnesota Sport Entertainment (who own the Aeros) was joining that group, too.

Then, today, SF Group announced the hiring of Tom Garrity as their President and CEO. Who is Tom Garrity? Nobody except the former two-time President of the Aeros.

No, I am not saying the Aeros are going to pack up and get moved to Sioux Falls. But all of this is not a coincidence. Tom Garrity is one of the very best on this planet at putting butts in seats and he has the resume to show that. He also has a good repoire with that group, and I am sure that helped Tom land that pretty sweet gig.

From a business standpoint, the Wild-owned Aeros would benefit tremendously from lowering their operating costs AHL hockey is for-profit hockey. The Wild have every right to get the best deal for their product. But the Aeros are in the top 10 in attendance every year, and because of IAH, they can get their prospects to just about any city in North American before Noon central.

The flight time from IAH to MSP is just 140 minutes, and 1,094 miles is not that big of a deal when you consider relationships like Worcester/San Jose.

Sioux Falls has a brand new hockey arena, seats about 12,000 and would be an attractive proximity facility for the Wild. But it is Sioux falls and long term, I think it would be a complete fail for the AHL.

Moline didn't work, Omaha didn't work, Des Moines didn't work, Abbotsford is not working, OKC is not working ... and the list goes on and on.

Right now is not the time to worry about the Aeros leaving, but the next few months will be key. If the Wild and Toyota Center don't get something worked out before Christmas, then it might be time to get a little nervous.


Stephen M. said...

Kayak says that Delta flies non-stop from FSD to MSP five times a day.

In my opinion (FWIW), hockey won't be leaving Houston. The Wild might, but hockey won't.

Ms. Conduct said...

Right, but half the season, the team is somewhere else. LA, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Nashville, Arizona... guessing those flights aren't so readily available out of FSD.

But I agree with your opinion... it's proven to be too good an AHL market for it to abandoned completely.

Forecheck said...

The arena won't be ready until Fall 2014 at the earliest.

B2Bomber said...

Barnabas Collins: It will be a long time before this house falls apart. It was built to last forever like the Pyramids in Egypt.
Victoria Winters: You can't compare the Pyramids to this house. The Pyramids were designed to be tombs.
Barnabas Collins: You're right. This house was not designed to be a tomb.....nor was it designed to play hockey!

Anonymous said...

hmmm..sounds like time to not renew tickets.

Joe said...

I'm a season ticket holder.

* After attending several games in other AHL markets and seeing how well they treat their team
* After seeing the puck go through the net confirmed by Hackett, my daughter and I swearing to see at least one more, and possibly two more and not replacing the nets
* After seeing the Aeros merchandise barely stocked until near end of season
* After seeing such a disaster as aerosingame.com (fanconnect)
* After the iphone app did not work for about 40% of the season and the new one is just horrible
* After barely hearing the announcer attempting to get the crowd involved(does he get paid by the word with a cap limit?), and seemingly act like doing his job is the biggest chore on the earth
* After seeing the Dynamics attendance dwindle. Down to four for the last two games. Although every time they have a new 'performance' I'm looking for the Trileptal for them
* After seeing the distributing of promotional items stopped 30 minutes before the game at the skybridge station. Not just once. Real classy for center ice ticket purchasers.
* After seeing the stats sheet printed as afterthought probably about 20% of the time
* After being amazed at the lack of attendance in game 1 of the playoffs
* After incredibly seeing nothing in the breezeways (no sign making, face painting, band, choir, karate kids (although admitted some are annoying)...nothing for game 2 of the playoffs
* After again being amazed at the lack of attendance for game two of the playoffs

And while walking down to our seats, I look at my wife and say "I wonder if they're thinking about moving the Aeros?"

Forecheck said...

Joe - Admittedly the Aeros are not being run as a first class minor league organization
(as opposed to say the Colorado Golden Eagles, or the old Louisville minor league baseball team, or what I hear the Skeeters are hoping to be). They are cheap, but they will be cheap and amateurish elsewhere, too.

Souix Falls simply does not have the population base to fund an AHL team.

Also, the NHL (or at least the Pacific and Mountain division teams)is wanting the AHL to relocate westward. So I think the teams in danger of moving are the old eastern teams like Albany (economically depressed area), Binghamton (ditto, to a lesser degree), and Springfield (arena in a bad part of town). And since the Salmon Kings are no more, one can see Abbotsford headed to Victoria.

The Aeros were 5th in the league in attendance and about a third above the league average. The HSA seems to be cutting them a deal each contract with a healthy subsidy.

I think the Aeros are about as safe as any minor league franchise
could be ( not 100% or course). Even more so for Houston as an AHL city. Even if it turns out to be the Houston Barons or Houston Sharks.

ICEVET said...

With all due respect, some would suggest that a more productive use of your BLOG would be to discuss, with some specificity, the NEW talent, joining the WILD organization in the coming season. This would provide real VALUE to your commentary audience.

Aside from Stanley Cup Playoff action, at the moment, the hottest "venue" issue in the hockey world is the Phoenix Coyotes (headed for a Conference Final) "subsidy" from the City of Glendale, Arizona (amounting to a purported $ 271 Million through the year 2033)....a nice off-balance sheet asset for the future owners of that franchise.

Reference: Brad Parks' Sports Column...5/9/12 Wall Street Journal (Personal Journal Section).

Go Aeros!

Forecheck said...

...joining the WILD organization in the coming season...

Well, it does look like Bryzgalov will be available....

Forecheck said...

OK, now on the the Aeros' affiliation with the Orlando Solar Bears?

Mk. VIII said...

Whether or not the Wild decide to move their AHL affiliate to Sioux Falls doesn't mean Houston will be without AHL hockey. This market is too important to the future growth of hockey in the 'non-traditional' markets to abandon it now. Same goes for San Antonio and Austin, and all the AA and junior teams in the state. The sport of hockey has shown tremendous growth in Texas over the past 20 years, thanks in large part to the efforts of committed groups advancing the sport here. For someone who remembers attending Houston Apollos games in the 1960's, when 3000 fans on a Saturday night was considered a 'big' crowd, it is impressive to see the Aeros attracting the crowds they now attract. I hope our affiliation with the Wild continues, but if it doesn't, hockey (AHL, or maybe a step UP the ladder) will continue.