Houston Sports: The one way the city can get a NHL franchise

SAN ANTONIO - OCTOBER 15: Erik Reitz /

In Houston Sports, we have just about everything we need within an arm’s reach but a hockey team is certainly something that this team is lacking.

In a great tidbit of news for Houston Sports, with the NBA making the $2.2 billion deal official with business magnate Tilman Fertitta becoming the new owner of Clutch City Sports and Entertainment.  This is company that’s operating arm for the Houston Rockets, Toyota Center as well as other entities, this will be best thing to happen for local hockey fans alike.

Hockey has always had a mixed relationship with fans here in the area as the minor-league AHL/IHL Houston Aeros struggled to muster the attendance that was needed to get keep the franchise competitive among others.  There’s still a strong, fanatic following of the Aeros and I personally think that’s a reason why things will work if we were able to get a NHL team.

Of course, with Fertitta now owning Toyota Center, he wouldn’t have to worry about the overhead of paying rent to a tenant.  He’d just squeeze them into the arena’s bustling schedule for fans to enjoy.

Mark Cervantes, a guy who has spearheaded the NHL Houston Sports campaign has some passionate words to say and makes his case:

How do we get a team?

Even though that the NHL is back on solid ground in terms of financial footing as well as labor agreement that has been a win-win for both the players and owners, the likelihood of Houston Sports getting a team will be via the discount purchase of struggling organization rather than outright expansion.

The two presumptive candidates?

That would be the Carolina Hurricanes and the Arizona Coyotes.  These two teams have been ranked near bottom of attendance for the past few seasons and it doesn’t appear that there will be any sign of improvement .  The teams averaged 11,776 and 13,094 fans per game in 2016-17, which is 63 and 76.5 percent respectively in terms of their capacity of their facilities.  Their home rinks are at the 13-year-old Gila River Arena (17,125) and the 18-year-old PNC Arena (18,860) respectively.

Both of these teams have rather modern facilities but it’s just all about getting fans to be motivated to come to games.  So far, that apparently hasn’t worked and I could expect either one or both franchises to be on the move in the future rather than a complete folding.

Who’s the dark horse candidate?

The Calgary Flames?  What? A Canadian hockey team that would actually uplift its roots for somewhere down south?  It’s not a crazy idea although I don’t likely see this happening but I’ve seen stranger things happen.  Las Vegas will have an NFL team in a couple of seasons — so what he thought was unfathomable is happening.  Here’s why both situations are similar — both franchises lack the facilities to remain competitive on the business forefront.

As you know, the Oakland Raiders felt the move was necessary because they play in the dilapidated, half a century old Oakland Coliseum.  The city of Oakland never had a solid plan to help build a new property as the lack of funding likely was the largest of factors as the economy continues to recover.

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Furthermore, Calgary has been in an economic recession for quite some time and the Flames’ ownership at seemingly the wrong time is pushing for a new facility partially funded by the public to replace the 34-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome.  Their attendance numbers remain strong — they averaged 18,727 last season, operating at 97.1 percent of the building’s capacity.

But because of the lack of a newer facility, the Flames could pack up and move so H-Town would certainly be a new destination. Toyota Center would be more than adequate to serve the needs of fans.  But I seriously doubt they could get the attendance numbers they’re getting across the border early-in.

So this makes the purchase of the aforementioned teams more likely and I’m certainly okay with that.  As I’ve said before, I’m all for the restoration of the old Aeros name for our new team but I’m not sure what the legal ramifications are but since they were renamed when they moved to Des Moines, Ia. back in 2013, I’m sure the hurdles are small to accomplish.

As I’ve written previously, hockey can work in the city of Houston and the city’s diverse, bustling economy can support a team.

Next: Why the Bayou City deserves an NHL team

There’s a movement going on to bring a team here and I’d definitely give these social media accounts a follow as it’s one I wholeheartedly support:

Twitter: @NHLHouston

Facebook: NHL Houston

Instagram: @NHLHouston & @Bring_NHL_To_Houston

Other fan accounts to follow on Twitter:  @CrazyTex00, @Hockey2Houston, @Whynotgowild, @DanRS87, @outonthepatio, @Senjo41A

It’s nothing to it but to do it and I think with the collaboration of many, I strongly believe we can get this important initiative handled to completion.

Go Houston Sports!