Starting next season, the Minnesota Wild’s minor league call-ups will be getting fewer frequent flier miles.
Minnesota received permission from the American Hockey League’s Board of Governors on Thursday to move its AHL affiliate from Houston to Des Moines, Iowa, beginning in 2013-14. The team, formerly the Houston Aeros, will be renamed the Iowa Wild.
“Our organization has enjoyed tremendous support from the loyal, passionate hockey fans in Houston since 2001,” Wild assistant to the general manager/Aeros GM Jim Mill said in a statement released by 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 a part of this hockey tradition.”
The Aeros’ lease with the Toyota Center in Houston had ended, and the two sides were unable to come to an agreement. According to reports, the Toyota Center had tried to raise the rent for Aeros games, believing it was turning away more profitable concerts because of tie-ups with the Aeros’ schedule.
“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 had played in Houston for 19 years. This season, based largely on the strength of the Wild’s strong and emerging prospect core, the Aeros are 38-25-5-5 and fifth in the AHL Western Conference standings.
“We were not able to find agreement on terms of a new arena lease which would allow us to continue to successfully operate our franchise,” Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka said in the release. “We thank Toyota Center for the partnership we’ve had since moving there in 2003.”
With the change coming, the Wild had reportedly sought to bring their farm team closer to Minnesota for the frequent trips between the two cities by players and staff. The Iowa Wild reportedly will play at Wells Fargo Arena, which seats 17,000 for basketball games with a slight change likely for hockey.