Full Show

Houston’s Missing NHL Franchise: Tuesday’s Show (July 14, 2015)

For the first time since 1997, the National Hockey League is considering expanding. Starting this month, the 30-team professional hockey league has begun accepting bids for new franchises. Houston would seem, on the surface, to be a natural choice – the fourth largest city in the country, the largest in North America without an NHL team, […]

For the first time since 1997, the National Hockey League is considering expanding. Starting this month, the 30-team professional hockey league has begun accepting bids for new franchises.

Houston would seem, on the surface, to be a natural choice – the fourth largest city in the country, the largest in North America without an NHL team, with a natural rival in the Stars a few hours north in Dallas, and an NHL-ready arena in the Toyota Center. Houston also has some pro hockey history, with successful franchises (both named the Aeros) in the upstart World Hockey Association in the 1970’s and more recently in the minor league American Hockey League (though that franchise left town in 2013).

But there are also reasons against a team here. Despite a number of southern franchises already in the league, there’s still a perception among some that Houston wouldn’t have a strong enough fan base for a hockey club. And there are other (northern) markets clamoring for teams, which formerly had pro franchises, in Quebec City and Seattle, as well as a bid from Las Vegas.

There’s complicated history, too, between the NHL and Les Alexander, the owner of the NBA’s Rockets. His lease gives him exclusive rights to house an NHL team at the Toyota Center. He once wanted a team, but it’s not clear he still does, or that he’d allow someone else to start one and play there. It’s also not clear if the league wants him. But Houston could develop other potential venues, including a certain unoccupied and historic domed stadium.

And then there’s the cost. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated the league will seek a hefty expansion fee.

Would Houston support an NHL team? Is there an owner — and an arena — ready to step up here? Would the NHL want to be here? And what would it mean for Houston to have the one major sports franchise we lack?

On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss the history of hockey in Houston, and the potential impact of starting a franchise here. We welcome your thoughts for Houston Chronicle online sports editor Greg Rajan and Dallas Stars broadcaster and TV host Josh Bogorad. Then, we weigh the pros and cons of an NHL expansion franchise in Houston with the help of Houston Press sports writer John Royal, and Josh Lile, the Managing Editor of defendingbigd.com, which covers the Dallas Stars.

Also this hour: Rice University graduates Scott Key and Sam Brisendine are raising funds to make emergency flooring for refugee families. Edel Howlin will talk with them about the project.

Then: A while back, we explored the world of insects. That world is fascinating, but not always so wonderful. Especially when we’re talking about pests who invade your garden or home. Sometimes, you just need to eliminate such pests. We welcome your questions for Houston-area exterminator Steve Durham, a board certified entomologist and President and Owner of EnviroCon Termite & Pest Inc.

Plus: In the latest installment of our summer reading series, we talk with Houston-area writer Saadia Faruqi, author of Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan.

Share