Photo of the downtown Houston, Texas skyline. 

Image Credit: Jeff Turner (CC BY 2.0)

Now that Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has officially put the team up for sale, there are whispers that Houston, Texas could eventually lure an NHL franchise. Houston, one of the largest sports and television markets in the United States, already has the Toyota Center, a world-class arena that would provide a perfect home for an NHL team. Unfortunately, Leslie Alexander also controls the lease with the Toyota Center and has made it clear that he doesn’t want to share the venue with another sports franchise.

Popular arenas such as the Staples Center, Wells Fargo Center and Madison Square Garden are home to both NHL and NBA franchises. With the NHL’s most recent expansion to Las Vegas, Nevada (Vegas Golden Knights), the league is unbalanced with 31 teams. A 32nd team would balance out the NHL’s central division. A hockey team in Houston would also automatically form a rivalry with the nearby Dallas Stars.

Exterior photo of the Toyota Center. Home of the Houston Rockets.

Image Credit: Ed Uthman (CC BY 2.0)

The Arizona Coyotes are currently in limbo with their home arena; Gila River Arena in Glendale. Peter Karmanos, Jr. has also put the Carolina Hurricanes (Raleigh, North Carolina) up for sale. An expansion fee would require an investment group to spend $500 million to bring a team to Houston. A relocation fee would cost between $300-$400 million on top of the initial purchase price of a team. At the moment, Seattle and Quebec City are the two most likely destinations for an NHL franchise. Quebec City already has a standing world-class arena although a much smaller market than Houston. Seattle is currently renovating the old KeyArena with the hopes of luring both an NHL and NBA franchise. Seattle is a better market for hockey than Quebec City with it's strong corporate presence and large television market. 

Several years ago, Leslie Alexander unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the Edmonton Oilers and move the team to Houston. Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins, has publicly expressed interest in bringing an NHL team to Houston but saw Leslie Alexander as an obstruction. All of this is purely speculation. However, the National Hockey League would thrive in Houston, Texas. You can also bet that Gary Bettman is paying close attention to the investment group that purchases the Houston Rockets from Alexander.  




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