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Volume 21 No. 1
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Markets: Houston

The Toyota Center offers Houston an NHL-caliber arena, though its lease could be a sticking point.
Income profile (annual):
Household median: $61,465
Household, 60th percentile: $77,975
Household, 80th percentile: $129,039
Median, family of four: $82,691
Discretionary, family of four (rank): $22,083 (22nd)

MSA population (rank): 6.66 million (5th)
Since 2010: +12 percent
Major pro team: Astros, Texans, Rockets, Dynamo
Nearest NHL team: Dallas Stars (239 miles)
TV teams: Stars, Texas Rangers
TV households (rank): 2.37 million (10th)
Metro GDP (rank): $503.3 billion (4th)
Fortune 1000 HQs (rank): 51 (3rd)
Employment profile: The hub of the U.S. energy industry over-indexes in engineering and architecture jobs by 75 percent, extraction and construction jobs by 55 percent, and life, physical and social science jobs by 32 percent.
Places to play: Home to the Rockets, Toyota Center seats 17,800 for hockey.
— Bill King


There’s much to like about the prospect of an NHL franchise in Houston. By every measure, it looks like a market that should have a team in each of the five leagues.

Houston is already home to more people than Philadelphia, Washington, San Francisco, Boston and Denver — all five-team markets. It has grown more in the last five years than all but one of the top 65 markets: Austin. Only New York and Chicago are home to more Fortune 1000 headquarters.

Finally, the vast, populous state of Texas, shared by two teams in baseball and three in the NBA, gives one NHL team, the Dallas Stars, exclusive access to 13.5 million TV households in 31 markets — or about 5 million more than are reached by franchises in New York and Los Angeles.

Houston also has a viable NHL-caliber arena, the Toyota Center, but the structure of that arena’s lease may contain an insurmountable hurdle. For a team to come to town, the deal would have to go through Rockets owner Les Alexander, whose lease gives him what amounts to a right of first refusal to put an NHL team in the arena.

Alexander didn’t see enough value in the league to put in a bid in the current round of NHL expansion. But could a relocation option at the right price nudge Alexander in that direction? Some think that’s possible. He had a deal in place to buy, and likely move, the Edmonton Oilers in 1998, but that fell apart when local owners stepped forward to purchase the team. So Alexander has shown an inclination — albeit one that has remained dormant in recent years.