The Houston Aeros left the Toyota Center after 2012-13 season, but minor league hockey could be returning to Houston sometime in the not-too-distant future.
“There is some chatter about creating this building (the Cedar Park Center) and with its success in a suburban community in Houston,” Dallas president and CEO Jim Lites said. “And that would be great … we think that Houston would be just as vibrant and they’d have a franchise and a building that would fit the American Hockey League.
“I think teams would flock there,” Lites continued. “I’ve talked to my counterparts in Calgary and Edmonton. They would love to have a franchise in Houston.”
The statement comes at an interesting time for the Oilers, who will not be renewing their AHL affiliation with the Oklahoma City Barons.
Lites said Dallas wouldn’t be involved in the official building process for a potential AHL team in Houston. But they would “open their books and numbers” and help any potential owner look at the positives of finding the right suburban community.
A Houston franchise would be great news for the Stars and the San Antonio Rampage, who would be able to re-create the Texas AHL triangle and save a significant amount of money on travel costs.
Lites also believes Houston would be a better market than some of the California markets that have been mentioned in the AHL proposed “Pacific Division.”
“I’m not wild about the cities I’ve heard being involved in the California expansion,” Lites said. “Some of those cities are kind of rough and not great. But that’s up to them … but I understand what they want to do.”
“You can save a day’s worth salary on a $3 million guy and it really matters,” Lites said. “That’s the kind of thing that’s important to the LA Kings, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, the San Jose Sharks. Just like it is to us. We’re able to bounce Jamie Oleksiak back down and he can play a couple games on a weekend and then back to Dallas later in the week. That’s the type of thing that literally saves you over a million dollars a year in payroll.”