Houston Aeros no more? Wild reportedly set to move AHL affiliate to Des Moines

Scott Halleran

The Minnesota Wild are reportedly set to move their AHL affiliate from Houston to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2013-14 season, leaving America's fourth most-populous city without professional hockey for the first time in 20 years.

The Houston Aeros have a long hockey history, from their original days as a World Hockey Association franchise in the 1970s to their reincarnation as an IHL and later AHL franchise in the mid-1990s. But those days could be coming to an end following the 2012-13 AHL season.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Minnesota Wild are set to move their affiliate to Des Moines, Iowa, at some point in the next few weeks as talks about a new lease at Houston's Toyota Center have broken down. The Wild are the majority owners of the Aeros, so this isn't just about changing affiliates. It's about relocating the team.

There's no lack of support for hockey in Houston, a city that's been discussed in the past as a potential option for NHL expansion or relocation -- although not as loudly as Seattle, Kansas City and any number of Canadian cities. The Aeros rank seventh in AHL attendance this season, averaging 6,750 fans per game, well over the league-wide average of 5,643 per game.

Wild fans over at Hockey Wilderness have more to say about the impending move, noting that among other things, moving their affiliate from a major airline hub in Houston to Des Moines could make calling up AHL players on short notice a tougher process.

It remains to be seen if Houston will get AHL hockey back in the future, even if it seems likely given the city's history of supporting the league. But for at least the 2013-14 season, it appears as though hockey fans there will have to look elsewhere for their fix.

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