New Rockets owner would consider NHL team if money was right

Updated 6:22 pm, Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, left, and new team owner Tilman Fertitta hold up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston. less Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, left, and new team owner Tilman Fertitta hold up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in ... more Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta answers a question during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle ) less Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta answers a question during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston. ( Brett Coomer / Houston ... more Photo: Brett Coomer, Staff

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during a news conference introducing Fertitta as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

during a news conference introducing Fertitta as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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New Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta arrives to a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

New Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta arrives to a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta smiles as he introduces his father, Vic, during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta smiles as he introduces his father, Vic, during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta holds up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta holds up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta holds up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta holds up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, left, and new team owner Tilman Fertitta hold up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston. less Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, left, and new team owner Tilman Fertitta hold up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in ... more Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, left, and new team owner Tilman Fertitta hold up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston. less Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown, left, and new team owner Tilman Fertitta hold up a Rockets jersey during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in ... more Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta answers a question during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta answers a question during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta listens to a question during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta listens to a question during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta smiles as he introduces his father, Vic, during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta smiles as he introduces his father, Vic, during a news conference introducing him as the Rockets new owner at Toyota Center on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Houston.

Photo: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle

The ink was barely dry on Tilman Fertitta's record-setting deal to buy the Rockets and control of Toyota Center when he said he was open to another sports venture.

Fertitta, who closed on the deal last Friday, said he would consider bringing an NHL team to Houston either as an owner or landlord if the numbers could work.

"I would put an NHL team here tomorrow," Fertitta said. "This one has got to work. But I'd love to have the other dates in the building. Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely. We'll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do has to make sense.

"Will we be aggressive? Yes. That's my nature."

The NHL's Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes have often been considered candidates to move either with debt or arena issues, or both. Seattle and Quebec City have been interested in attracting an expansion team as well but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league is not in the expansion mode at present after adding Las Vegas.

Rockets CEO Tad Brown said the team under Leslie Alexander had looked at NHL teams in the past, but either the timing with labor issues or the deals available were not right.

"Tilman and I already talked about a number of different things, the optionality going forward that he wants to look at," Brown said. "We're going to look at everything that makes sense for this building, for his companies, for the city of Houston. But like anything, if the numbers don't work and the deal doesn't work, I'm not going to recommend it to him.

"We've looked at many NHL teams. It's not a matter of not wanting to bring in somebody, whether they want to be a tenant or not. It's just the deals didn't work. Leslie was always looking forward to opportunities that could make the city better, the sports scene better and Toyota Center more effective and fill more dates. The NHL at the time, the teams that he looked at and we looked at, the CBA didn't work and numbers didn't work. It just didn't work in the structure we had in place."

Brown said he has spoken to Larry Tanenbaum, the CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Raptors and Maple Leafs, about an NHL team in Houston.

"Everything is open," Brown said. "Tilman is aggressive. He has made it very clear to me he wants to see everything. We'll be getting him and Larry together soon."

Tanenbaum was made the chairman of the NBA board of governors last week. He and Fertitta met as part of the NBA approval process but the potential for the NHL in Houston was not discussed.

"We have to make sure hockey fans in Houston, Texas and Houstonians will come out and support an NHL team," Fertitta said. "When the Aeros left they were drawing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 a game. If we have an NHL team, we have to put 16,000 in that stadium every night, 17,000, 18,000. If I go out and get an NHL team, I'm going to ask the citizens of Houston to make sure they commit to help me do it. None of this is successful without the fans out there."

Source : http://www.chron.com/sports/rockets/article/New-Rockets-owner-would-consider-NHL-team-if-12267657.php

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