I previously wrote an article about an NHL expansion and what could happen to the league. I mentioned that a Seattle NHL team is practically a done deal but it isn’t the only option being looked at. Houston is another city that has recently sky rocketed into the conversation of gaining an NHL team. Although another expansion team seems somewhat unlikely, there are currently a few teams that could be seeking a new home in the near future.
In the previous article, I discussed the rumors of Calgary not being able to maintain the increased value of the Flames franchise much longer. Calgary sports reporter, Eric Francis, even mentioned his prediction of the team relocating to Houston by 2020. Although that might still be an option, news of the Arizona Coyotes’ majority owner, Andrew Barroway, seeking a valuation and possible sale of the team has recently surfaced.
Forbes Staff writer, Mike Ozanian, explains that Barroway is seeking a $500 million valuation. This comes off the heels of the $500 million worth of the new expansion team in Las Vegas as well as the possible $650 million cost for a Seattle team, systematically increasing the entire league’s value. Barroway’s interest in the team’s sale occurring as their value increased might have something to do with his decision to purchase the majority of the Coyotes a year ago. Ozanian explained in an article from 2017;
“Barroway’s buyout of his partners is the riskiest deal I can recall in recent memory. … Barroway and the Coyotes are now leveraged to the hilt. As of now, the Coyotes have $250 million of debt. There is $100 million of NHL credit facility debt and two loans from MGG Investment Group; one for $100 million with about a 10% interest rate and a payment-in-kind loan for $50 million that would be redeemed in six years for $100 million.”
Other than accumulating a great deal of debt, the franchise has actually been losing money. Last season, the Coyotes reported roughly $20 million in negative operating income. Their 14-year-old arena is also in need of renovations but instead, city leaders have had to direct the sales-tax revenue to paying off the $180 million debt Glendale borrowed to construct the arena in the first place. To make matters even worse, the team has been in the bottom 3 of the league every year for average attendance over 10 years.
Since restaurant mogul and TV show host, Tilman Fertitta, purchased the Rockets and the Toyota Center in 2017, he has made his interest in the NHL clear. Although an NHL team in Houston seemed impossible with the feud between previous Rockets owner, Leslie Alexander, and the league, Fertitta has given Houston hockey fans hope by stating;
“I’m very interested in the possibility of bringing the NHL to Houston”
With the owner of the Arizona Coyotes seeking a potential buyer, this could be the perfect opportunity for the 4th largest city in the US to finally become a hockey town (not trying to step on your toes Detroit). For a city that has so much pride and is nearly four times the size of Seattle or Las Vegas, it’s time for a Houston NHL team.
For more information on a future Houston NHL team, head over to NHL To Houston. They are the leading voice in the activism of finally bringing professional hockey to the largest city in the Lone Star State.