For those Wild fans unaware of this change, the Minnesota Wild have moved their AHL affiliate the Houston Aeros to Des Moines, Iowa and renamed them the Iowa Wild. New name, New arena (for the team anyway), New sweaters, New logo, but many familiar faces! Following are five reasons I think that this move will be good for the Minnesota Wild. Remember the web site name is GonePuckWild.com we will be covering the Iowa Wild in addition to all of our heavy Minnesota Wild coverage. We’re your one stop shop for all things Wild hockey! If you agree or disagree with these 5 reasons or have any others sound off in the comment section. With that said, here we go.
1. Proximity: Prior to this year it was a 1235 mile trek from Houst to St. Paul. That’s approximately 18 hours by car or 3+ by air, not including time to and from airports. Des Moines to St. Paul is 3 hours 40 minutes by car and less than an hour by air. The Wild could literally call up a player from the Iowa squad after a morning skate in St. Paul and have them at the Excel Energy Center in plenty of time for a 7pm. game. Hopefully no more scrambling and frantic rushes from MSP airport to St. Paul to get a call up to the arena by game time.
2. Regional support: There are already plenty of Minnesota Wild fans in Iowa. Yes, there is the occasional Blackhawks fan who has wandered out of Chicago into the verdant green farm fields of Iowa but, they are few and far between and usually bandwagon types. I’ve met quite a few Wild fans who have made the trip to St. Paul for a game. The fan base in Iowa connects with the Wild far better than any other NHL team. With the Iowa Wild in Des Moines the tie in to the NHL parent club is close geographically and in name. It’s a short hop mentally form the Iowa Wild to the Minnesota Wild. Press coverage will overlap as well with Gone Puck Wild adding a writer specifically to cover the Iowa team. Her name is Lora and you can follow her stories on GonePuckWild.com all season long.
The last AHL team in Iowa was the Iowa Chops an affiliate of the Dallas Stars, The Edmonton Oilers and the Anaheim Ducks. The team failed for several reasons, many financial, including some alleged improprieties and frankly poor NHL team affiliation. The one thing The Iowa Chops did have was an excellent logo featuring the snarling red and black boar’s head. I’d love to get my hands on one of those old sweaters! There is a great hockey fan base in general in Iowa with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL, The Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, The Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL ,The North Iowa Bulls in Mason City play in the NA3HL, The Quad City Junior Flames in Davenport of the NA3HL, and The Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. Iowa has a lot of hockey fans and now there’s a quality AHL franchise back in the state.
3. Road Trip: Load up the buses! One thing the Minnesota Wild have been lacking is an AFFORDABLE road trip for their fans. $1500 dollar plus trips are out of the reach financially for most fans in the Twin Cities. A bus trip to Des Moines to catch a Iowa Wild game would probably be more in the $100 to $200 dollar per person range. I can name at least a dozen friends who would be all over a trip like that. Even with out an organized outing load up the vehicle with another couple and you could even do the trip in a day without an overnight stay. If you’ve never been Des Moines is a fun and inexpensive place to visit. The ability of a family to pack up the kids and go to a game is also much more affordable at the AHL level.
4. Financial savings: The savings in airfare alone for the Minnesota Wild will be huge. It will be cheaper to get players back and forth. It will be less expensive for the scouting staff to go see players in action. The arena rent/lease at the Wells Fargo Arena is much less than the astronomical amount the Toyota Center in Houston charged and they wanted a huge increase in for the 2013-14 season. Jersey and merchandise sales should be brisk with the great new logo and excitement around the Iowa Wild.
5. Better Hockey Market: Face it when people think of Texas they think football not hockey. While there is still an AHL and NHL franshise in the state selling tickets is tough and sellouts a rarity. There is a great hockey fan base in general in the state of Iowa with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL, The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL, The Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, The Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL ,The North Iowa Bulls in Mason City play in the NA3HL, The Quad City Junior Flames in Davenport of the NA3HL, and The Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. Iowa has a lot of hockey fans and now there’s a quality AHL franchise back in the state for them to follow and cheer for.
There you have my five reasons the Iowa Wild will be an asset to the Minnesota Wild and serve to further expand the hockey fan base in the region and bring the AHL and NHL franchises close together! As always this is Scott Drain saying Let’s GO Wild!!