In 1972, the Dayton Arrows moved to Houston and became the Aeros in the World Hockey Association (WHA). They won 2 championships before the league folded in 1978. The Aeros had a rebirth in 1994 by joining the International Hockey League (IHL) as an expansion team. In 1999, I was there to support the Aeros clinch the Turner Cup against the Orlando Solar Bears. In 2001, The IHL dissolved and the Aeros transferred to the American Hockey League (AHL). They won an AHL champion in 2003 and currently are the minor league franchise for the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL). The AHL provides the minor league structure for the NHL. Unfortunately, the future of Houston hockey is in doubt.
The Aeros’ lease at the Toyota Center will expire April 2013. As per the agreement with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority (HCHSA) and the Houston Rockets, the Aeros are permitted to play their home games in the Arena. Annually, the sports authority turns down concerts and other potentially profitable events to accommodate the Aeros. If negotiations fail, the Aeros would likely relocate to Des Moines, Iowa for the 2013-2014 season.
“They (HCHSA) have a business and we have a business and everybody’s got their own interests and that’s why the process continues… we’re in the middle of that process,” Aeros general manager Jim Mill said. “We’re still talking and that’s about the only update I can give you.”
It would be sad to see Houston lose its hockey team. Through the years, my daughter and I have attended Aeros games with our trusty cowbells in hand. Hockey is a great sport and I treasure Houston’s hockey history.
Without adequate marketing and capital in the minor league system, I fear the worst for our team. In a perfect world, we would see the Houston Aeros leave the minor league ranks and join the NHL as an expansion team; solidifying hockey in Houston.