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Volume 24 No. 154
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     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).