Not just Fertitta wants a hockey team here

Do tell.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has company when it comes to bringing a pro hockey franchise to Houston.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed Tuesday that the league has received interest from other parties about a team in Houston.

“Tilman isn’t the only one who’s expressed interest in Houston,” Bettman said in a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors in New York. “Houston’s a terrific market, but there’s nothing at the moment that drives us to the point of saying we’ll do this.”


Bettman, as he’s been wont to do over recent months, again stated Tuesday the NHL is “not currently planning on expansion.” In addition to Houston, he said the league has received “a lot of inbound, unsolicited expressions of interest” from markets including Quebec City, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Omaha.

The NHL is currently at 32 teams and for the first time since 2011, relocated a franchise in a complex transaction after it shifted the hockey assets of the Arizona Coyotes to Utah, brokering a sale to Ryan and Ashley Smith, owners of the NBA’s Jazz franchise, while making inactive the business operation of the Coyotes.

See here for the previous installment in this saga. I know it’s not Gary Bettman’s place to drop names, but I’m dying to know who else has made such inquiries. We’ve got plenty of rich people in this town so there’s no point in speculating. Give us some names, Gary!

That said, having a hockey team owner who doesn’t control the venue where hockey would be played is a complication, so maybe those other wannabes would be less likely to land a team anyway. Assuming there is a team to be landed, of course. Which, at this time, is not the case.

Two more things. First, my reaction to seeing Omaha as a possible expansion location was “Really? I didn’t think it was big enough.” The city of Omaha has just under a half million people, with a metro area of just under one million. That is definitely on the low end for cities that house major league sports franchises, but Omaha’s metro area is larger than that of Winnipeg, so it can be done. On the other hand, Winnipeg is experiencing some attendance issues and is very dependent on ticket sales to individuals; they have fewer corporate ticket buyers than any other franchise. This doesn’t have anything to do with anything and it would be Omaha’s problem to solve if they ever make it to the top of the expansion location list, I just thought it was interesting.

And second, in actual expansion news for a league that really should have a franchise in Houston:

Toronto has been awarded a WNBA franchise that will start play in 2026, according to multiple reports, when it will become the league’s first team outside of the United States.

The team will be owned by Kilmer Sports Inc., headed by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum. Tanenbaum is a minority owner and chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs and Raptors, among other teams.

The new Toronto club would be the 14th team in the WNBA. An expansion franchise in Golden State is set to join the league in 2025.

An official announcement is expected May 23 in Toronto, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which first reported on the expansion franchise.

“We continue to engage in productive conversations with interested ownership groups in a number of markets but have no news to report at this time,” a WNBA spokesperson said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Kilmer Sports also said there was “no update at this time.”

League commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in April that Toronto was among the cities being considered for expansion and that the goal was to reach 16 teams by 2028. Other cities mentioned by Engelbert for possible expansion were Philadelphia, Portland, Denver and Nashville as well as the South Florida region.

Congratulations to Toronto. Houston, sadly, is still not on the list. Tilman, if you actually want a WNBA team you’re going to have to show some real interest, not just a few words in passing when talking about your unrequited NHL lust. And for whatever richies that have been bugging Gary Bettman, look here! A league that is expanding right now! Maybe consider your other options for owing a sports team.

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2 Responses to Not just Fertitta wants a hockey team here

  1. C.L. says:

    Rich people stay rich by, among many things, (1) not making bad investments, (2) getting the public to shoulder some/all of the costs associated with their ‘sports’ investments, (3) not paying a whole lotta taxes. The Oil & Gas Cats of Houston aren’t all that inclined to part with their money and invest in a WNBA or NHL franchise that’s going to take years to become fruitful.

  2. Bill Brooker says:

    The NHL aint coming without taxpayer subsidies.

    I dont doubt there are lots of plutocrats that would love for the taxpayers of Houston help them buy/operate a NHL team.

    Theres little, if any, net public benefit from taxpayer spending on sports.

    Why not get Montgomery County to sponsor this mess? Harris County cant afford anymore “winning” bids for overpriced sporting events/teams

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