Top Five Failed Houston Sports Franchises

With the possibly impending demise of the Houston Comets WNBA franchise, I thought I would take a little look at some of the other professional sports franchises that have given it a try in Houston…and failed.

1. Houston Aeros, World Hockey Association, 1972-1978. Arguably the most successful of the former franchises, the Aeros captured two WHA Avco Cup Titles, and attracted large crowds in what was supposedly a non-hockey culture. But the Aeros are perhaps best remembered as the team that hockey legend Gordie Howe came out of retirement to play for. Of course, it helped that his line mates were his kids Mark and Marty. The Aeros were not included in the merger of WHA teams (Edmonton, New England Carolina, Winnipeg Phoenix, and Quebec Colorado) into the NHL and folded.

2. Houston Gamblers, United States Football League, 1984-1985. The Gamblers had a short but bright tenure in the U.S.F.L., which itself had a short, but bright tenure on the American sports landscape. Playing in the Astrodome, coached by Jack Pardee, quarterbacked by Jim Kelly, and employing the explosive Run-and-Shoot offense, the Gamblers appeared to be an early success story. And as with teams using the Run-and-Shoot offense in the NFL, the Gamblers made the playoffs, but were not able to win a title. The Gamblers were purchased by Donald Trump, who merged the team into his existing New Jersey Generals for the 1986 season. A season that was never played as the league went out of business.

3. Houston Hurricane, North American Soccer League, 1978-1980. The Hurricane were an expansion team in the NASL, a rapidly growing professional soccer league attempting to cash in on the soccer craze arising from soccer legend Pele’s play with the New York Stars. The Hurricane played in the Astrodome, which didn’t have much of a soccer atmosphere to it. Like many Houston sports teams, the Hurricane made the playoffs in two of their three years of existence, but like many Houston sports teams, they failed to win when it mattered. The team folded after the 1980 season.

4. Houston Texans, World Football League, 1974. The original Texans, wearing green and gold, didn’t even last an entire season in Houston, moving to Shreveport, Louisiana before the season ended. Playing in the Astrodome, the Texans were much like the other pro football playing the Dome – the Oilers – they were awful. The team lasted in Shreveport through the 1975 season, upon which the WFL went out of existence.

5. Texas Terror/Houston ThunderBears, Arena Football League, 1996-2001. The Terror/ThunderBears were owned by Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander, and shared the Compaq Center with the team. The Terror/ThunderBears were so bad that, for their last season, they played all of their games on the road before folding after the 2001 season. -- John Royal

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