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[Rumor/Report] Minnesota AHL affiliate to move to Des Moines Iowa


wshdrvvn

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work computer doesn't have flash 9, so not a great post yet but there are unofficial reports out.  from the newspaper here in des moines:

Bryce Miller: Shot of AHL hockey's return to Des Moines 'real'

Apr. 9, 2013 10:57 AM   |  3Comments

Remember the chatter about the possibility of professional hockey returning to downtown Des Moines?

Months later, the puck dream is alive and more possible than ever.

Recent rumblings created the sense that interest in Des Moines from the NHL's Minnesota Wild had cooled as thoughts about locations such as Peoria, Ill., warmed. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Tuesday that the Wild are "expected to relocate (their) American Hockey League affiliate to Des Moines" with an announcement coming in a few weeks, though no official was quoted or information attributed.

Iowa Events Center general manager Chris Connolly said there is no done deal — but also indicated he has no reason to believe central Iowa's chances have slipped.

Wild officials asked Connolly for a list of financial requirements to use Wells Fargo Arena, and those were provided "within the last two months" since the Des Moines Register revealed in mid-February that talks had taken place.

Connolly said, too, that he spoke with Minnesota representatives as recently as last week.

"In my heart of hearts," Connolly said, "I think we've got a shot at this thing."

The biggest question: What's going through the minds of decision-makers for the Wild as the lease between the Houston Aeros, Minnesota's American Hockey League team, and Toyota Center counts down its final days?

In Peoria, the team announced on the first day of this month — without a hint of April Fools' Day bluster — that the St. Louis Blues had sold the Rivermen to the Vancouver Canucks. The Peoria Journal Star newspaper reported that Vancouver hopes to move the AHL team to British Columbia, or construct a deal to play in Peoria next season if a move closer to its NHL ice isn't immediately possible.

Connolly, however, said he has no smoke signals indicating shifting interest.

"Is it soured? Is it better? I'm not privy to everything they're thinking behind the scenes," Connolly said. "I'm optimistic, until I hear otherwise."

In Iowa's final AHL season of 2008-09, the Chops ranked 17th in attendance among the 29 teams in the league at the time with an average of 4,322. Houston sat eighth and Peoria 21st. This season, Houston is seventh at 6,750 — about 1,100 above the average of the league that has now grown to 30 — and Peoria sits 19th at 5,129.

As in real estate, though, sometimes fan support can be out-trumped by location, location and another sprinkle of location.

Another possible factor: The Iowa Chops were led by out-state owners at Schlegel Sports, who ran afoul of AHL bylaws by using the team as collateral against a loan. Minnesota, though, is an NHL franchise that would run its team directly.

"That's a great situation," Connolly said. "If the team owns it, there's a more direct desire to succeed, to produce talent and those kinds of things."

Also worth noting: The Iowa Events Center and its bosses at the Polk County Board of Supervisors sit on a fat, dependable bank account from arena activity even without any potential benefits from hockey. During a 48-hour window in February, Connolly said, initial ticket sales for Taylor Swift and Fleetwood Mac alone ginned up about $1.7 million in gross sales.

Polk County used to subsidize the facility group in the range of $800,000 to $1.2 million every year for most of two decades, according to supervisors. Now, hundreds of thousands annually flow the other direction.

In addition to cash registers singing the right tune, the arena already houses two sports tenants whose seasons overlap a bit in the NBA D-League's Iowa Energy and the Arena Football League's Iowa Barnstormers.

Wells Fargo Arena also must juggle state tournaments in girls' and boys' basketball, high school wrestling and the possible events such as the recent NCAA wrestling championships.

In short, Connolly and the county stay busy and can afford to be picky.

"We're far from desperate," he said.

So far, the Wild and Aeros have remained mostly silent — with Minnesota failing to return messages from the Register. The Aeros, fighting for a playoff spot, could be tied up in a postseason that stretches until June.

Stay tuned. News could be arriving soon at an arena near you.

Yes, there's been hockey talk in Des Moines before. But for the first time in years, it's real.

The professional hockey saga in Des Moines has been pretty spotted, but hockey is more popular these days than ever, i think there could be a real buzz for this!  can't wait!

*edit it seems in my excitement i put this in the wrong section.. could this get moved please?

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