It's official: Aeros hockey team leaving Houston at end of season

April 19, 2013 3:34:35 AM PDT
Eyewitness Sports has learned that the Houston Aeros will be leaving town at the end of the season.

The Aeros are officially moving to Des Moines, Iowa. The team will be called the Iowa Wild, which means the Aeros name will stay in Houston. The team is the minor-league affiliate for the Minnesota Wild.

The team released an official statement Thursday afternoon.

"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. "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 Wild's COO said the team could not reach an agreement on a new lease with Toyota Center.

"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," Houston Rockets/Clutch City Sports & Entertainment CEO Tad Brown said.

Rumors about the departure had been flying since the beginning of the year as the team negotiated its lease with the Toyota Center. Then around 10 days ago, a report published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune said an announcement about the Aeros' move was imminent.

In the midst of a playoff push and currently occupying the No. 5 seed in their conference, the Aeros finish up the regular season this weekend with road games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Houston Aeros were granted an expansion franchise in the International Hockey League (IHL) on January 12, 1994, according to the team's website. The team won the IHL Turner Cup in 1999 by defeating Orlando.

Two years later, the Aeros became the affiliate for the Wild, then joined the American Hockey League (AHL).

In 2003, the Aeros beat Hamilton to win the Calder Cup, hoisting another championship banner in the rafters. The team returned to the finals in 2011, but lost to Binghamton in six games.
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