Minnesota Wild affiliate approved for move to Iowa
The Wild sought approval for the AHL to move the franchise to Des Moines, Iowa. The team will now be called the Iowa Wild and play in Wells Fargo Arena beginning next season.
"Our organization has enjoyed tremendous support from the loyal, passionate hockey fans in Houston since 2001," Wild Assistant to the General Manager/Aeros General Manager Jim Mill said in a release from the team. "There is a great hockey history in Houston, beginning with the Apollos in 1965, and continuing with the Aeros in the WHA, IHL and AHL. We are honored to have been part of this hockey tradition.
"We are grateful to our corporate and community partners, as well as our hard-working staff in Houston."
The Wild, Aeros and Houston Rockets, who are the owners of the Toyota Center (TC), tried to come to terms on an extension to a lease allowing the Aeros to play there for some time, but could not. The current lease expires at the end of this season. Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweeted that the TC wanted to nearly double the team's rent to play games there. He added that the rent per game at Wells Fargo Arena will be less than half of what the team paid the TC this season.
"We have enjoyed a very strong relationship with the Aeros dating back to Toyota Center's inaugural 2003 season," Houston Rockets/Clutch City Sports & Entertainment CEO Tad Brown said in the release. "Both parties worked diligently and in good faith during this process, but unfortunately we were unable to reach an agreement. We wish the Aeros continued success."
The Aeros have the seventh highest attendance in the American Hockey League through 38 games this season at 6,793 per game.
"On behalf of our Board of Governors, I would like to thank the fans of the Houston Aeros for the terrific support they have shown their team and the American Hockey League for the last 12 years," American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews said in the release.
The Aeros are currently third in the South Division and fifth in the Western Conference with a 38-25-5-5 record (86 points) with three games to play in the regular season - all on the road. The Aeros' final regular season game at the Toyota Center was a 4-1 win over the San Antonio Rampage last Saturday.