Hockey needs to return to Houston


Hockey needs to return to the Houston area.

Katie Gerbasich, Yearbook Editor

The fourth largest city in the country holds the Astros, Rockets and Texans, but what is missing from this list? An NHL team. Houston is the most populated city that lacks a hockey presence. This needs to change. 

Following rumors this offseason of teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Ottawa Senators possibly being relocated it re-sparked the push for Houston to be the home of a team. 

Toyota Center offers the perfect location. The center received new upgrades in the fall that offer a better fan experience, while providing plenty of seating. 

Scheduling between the NBA and NHL would not be a problem. Eleven other NBA teams share their arena with NHL teams. Rockets owner Tim Fertitta has even expressed his interest in bringing in a team.

Providing a team opens up current and future fans to the thrilling, ruthless and exhilarating sport that is hockey.

The center also used to be home to the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros for 10 years. From 2005-2013 they consistently ranked in the top 10 in the league for attendance. However, they left after not being able to reach a new agreement with the former Rockets owner on renting the Toyota Center. 

With the Dallas Stars being successful and playing only a few hours away, it poses the perfect opportunity to set up a rivalry between the teams. The great city of Houston would undoubtedly rally behind the team. This year, the Houston Texans only won four games and fans still attended their games. 

The diversity of the city also offers the opportunity for fans to come to the games when they are playing against their favorite teams. Now, this doesn’t exactly give home ice advantage but it’s still tickets being sold and revenue brought in. 

Money is a huge factor. With 41 home games in an NHL season it offers multiple opportunities for nearby hotels, restaurants and bars to get customers. The fans they receive during other professional sports seasons would only grow with the length of the NHL season. 

For youth hockey players in the area a main issue is no representation. Baylor recently brought back their ice hockey team. Yet, nearby colleges, like Houston and Rice do not have teams. Professional level playing could encourage more colleges to get involved and create more opportunities for these kids. 

This leaves the main issue to actually obtaining a team. The NHL expanded to 32 teams in the 2021-22 season with the addition of the Seattle Kraken. Now that they tie the NFL for most professional teams it’s unlikely they will expand further. 

That means Houston’s hopes of adding to a team likely rely on the relocation of another team. The one most in need of moving is the Arizona Coyotes. They broke their lease with their arena last year and announced in February that they will be playing at Arizona State University until the 2024-25 season. 

While this site offers all the necessary facilities it is simply not feasible long term. The team owner has submitted a request to build a new arena for the team but it has yet to be approved. This leaves an opportunity for the team to move to Houston for the 2025-26 season.

While this is all hypothetical, the addition of a new professional team would add to the culture of this city. It offers a way for Houston to experience major growth in multiple areas. Providing a team opens up current and future fans to the thrilling, ruthless and exhilarating sport that is hockey.