The NHL experience in a large outdoor venue is like nothing else.
The icy cold air (for both players and fans), the size of the stadium and the ice, and the sheer pleasure of watching a game that had its humble beginnings outdoors on frozen ponds somewhat returning to its roots.
Sign me up, boys. I’ve got my parka and toboggan cap ready.
Some of the great outdoor stadiums that have hosted NHL games include (new) Yankee Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Heinz Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Ice hockey in the Big House. That was something to behold.
Last season the NHL played their first outdoor game in the state of California, when the Anaheim Ducks met the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium in front 54,099 “fair weather” fans.
No, it wasn’t exactly seat warmer and hot chocolate weather, but a groundbreaking game nonetheless.
This year the league is once again returning to the West Coast, bringing the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings to the new football stadium in Santa Clara that will be the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium.
The weather in northern Cali will probably be a little more conducive to ice hockey, and with a brand new $1.2 billion stadium as a draw, the Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora is expecting a capacity crowd of 68,500 for the Feb. 21 faceoff.
Obviously fans are digging this whole outdoor stadium thing, and although the normal indoor venues will certainly never be replaced, the league has to start looking at some other great stadiums in which they can hold Winter Classics and other special events.
Mr. Bettman, I give you some suggestions for possible sites to hold such games.