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MICHIGAN GETS THIRD IHL FRANCHISE
Published April 26, 1995
The IHL Board of Governors granted an expansion franchise to West Michigan Hockey, Inc. for the '96-97 season. The team will play in a $62M, 12,000-seat arena currently under construction in downtown Grand Rapids. The arena will have more than 40 luxury boxes and 900 "premium" seats. The opening of the arena will coincide with the beginning of the '96 IHL season. The expansion fee is $7M. The Grand Rapids ownership is headed by Amway execs Daniel DeVos and David Van Andel. DeVos will be President/CEO, while Andel will be Chair. DeVos is also Vice Chair of the NBA Magic and co-owner of an Ontario Hockey League team. The IHL previously announced that L.A., Orlando and San Francisco expansion franchises will begin in '95-96 (IHL). HOUSTON HAPPY WITH THE "I": The Aeros' inaugural season "went well beyond what anyone had imagined," writes Jody Goldstein in the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The Aeros finished third in the league in attendance. Merchandise sales, projected to hit $350,000, brought in nearly $1M. Goldstein reports that the success of the IHL has "put on hold any plans" of attracting an NHL team to Houston -- for "the immediate future." Aeros President & GM Steve Patterson says the NHL's new CBA leaves teams with NBA-sized payrolls, but with $10-12M less in TV revenue: "That's an economic equation that doesn't work." Patterson points out that the box-office successes of the NHL Panthers and Stars don't create bottom-line success: "These teams did a good job marketing, but the player payroll just isn't in line with the revenues." The Aeros have an exclusive lease with the Summit until 2003, meaning the NHL will have to "bargain" with the team if it wants to "penetrate the Houston market" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/25).