The Minnesota Wild has officially announced the relocation of their minor league affiliate from Houston, Texas to Des Moines, Iowa. The Wild will begin play this Fall at the Wells Fargo Center, a 16,000 seat arena that opened in 2005.
“We are excited to announce that the Iowa Wild will begin play in the 2013-14 AHL season,” said Wild Owner Craig Leipold at today’s Iowa press conference. “Des Moines is an excellent sports market. Wild fan support is excellent not just in the State of Hockey but throughout the Upper Midwest, including Iowa. We know fans in Des Moines will enjoy watching tomorrow’s Minnesota Wild stars. Our team will be entrenched in this community, particularly in youth hockey.”
“The American Hockey League is looking forward to returning to Iowa this fall,” said AHL President and CEO David Andrews. “Under the leadership of the Minnesota Wild and with the support of the Des Moines community, we are confident that the Iowa Wild will be a successful franchise for years to come.”
“The Board of Supervisors is excited to welcome the Iowa Wild and AHL hockey back to Wells Fargo Arena. The Wild’s commitment brings 100 jobs to our community and we look forward to seeing the first puck drop in Wells Fargo Arena this fall,” stated Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair Tom Hockensmith.
In addition to revealing the team name, Wild brass also unveiled the franchise’s new logo and sweater. With that, reality has finally set in for many that the Houston Aeros are no more and the Iowa Wild have taken their place. If anything can be gleaned from this press conference, it’s that the Minnesota Wild is very serious about professional hockey in Des Moines. The logo and sweater chosen for their AHL affiliate is worthy of a look as a future alternate for the big club and is a variation of Minnesota’s current alternate home jersey.
This is a team that isn’t moving to a new location for just a little while; this is a team building their brand, further entrenching themselves into the Midwestern sports landscape and expanding their fan base outside of the State of Hockey. As a Wild and Aeros fan, and sports writer covering them, I wasn’t sure how I felt with this move, but today’s press conference shows a team dedicated to the organization and giving their fans top notch hockey at all levels of play. Their verbal commitment to youth hockey in the community only further proves it. Iowa is a state with several USHL and NAHL junior teams, the arrival of an AHL franchise in the state capital may go a long way in developing current interest in the sport.
The Wild will begin play this Fall at the Wells Fargo Center, a 16,000 seat arena that opened in 2005. The official team website is now live at Iowawild.com.