The KHL has emerged as a clear #2 in the rank and file of professional hockey leagues in the world. The league has grown as the game has grown in Europe and now the KHL wants to keep moving upward by creating premium events a la The Winter Classic in the NHL. Credit the KHL for creativity on this one though, as the primarily Russian-based league has come up with an event of their own that would be impossible to replicate in North America.
Yahoo’s Puck Daddy reports that KHL clubs Mettallurg Magnitogorsk and Traktor Chelyabinsk are looking into the possibility of playing an outdoor game in a 2,000 year old Roman amphitheater in Verona, Italy.
Arena di Verona, built in 30 AD, has hosted operas and concerts, but never a sporting event. The venue can hold up to 15,000 spectators, and if it’s anything like what we saw in Zagreb in 2012, it will look beautiful.
Such an event would have a two-fold effect. It would not only further promote the game in Italy, where the KHL is interested in expanding, but it would also give the league a premier event beyond its own playoffs with which to attract new fans.
Consider the Winter Classic, which is watched by casual and diehard fans alike and is consistently the most watched hockey game of the year — even more than any game of the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s the kind of effect the KHL wants to create with an outdoor game of their own. In an ancient Roman amphitheater, the idea of a ‘classic’ could be taken to a whole new level.