While Toyota Center undergoes several years of renovations, an upgrade that will not be immediately seen could prove to be among the most important.
When listing plans for future phases of renovation, Rockets president of business operations Gretchen Sheirr included “making sure this building is ready for anything, which includes making sure it’s hockey ready.”
The Rockets plan to add the “ice machine” that would be needed for Toyota Center to become an NHL venue, though there are no immediate plans to bring the NHL to Houston.
That addition would be the only change needed for hockey, with the arena and the favorable downtown location widely considered to be the NHL standards. No construction would be necessary.
Toyota Center does not have the equipment to produce NHL-quality ice. Portable machines can be brought in, as with the NHL’s annual Winter Classic outdoor games or with ice shows. That would be about a four-day process in an arena and unlikely for an NHL venue.
Adding the equipment needed to make Toyota Center suitable for the NHL, however, sounded to be more of a plan than a possibility.
See here and here for some background, and here for more on the Toyota Center renovation plans. For all the stories about how there are no plans for expansion in the NHL and how other cities would also be in the running if there were, there’s also been a lot of recent stories about how Houston would be ready to make a pitch for an NHL team. You know, in case it happens. And who knows, in a few years, maybe it will. We’ll be ready if it does.