SBD/April 17, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NHL May Add Five Additional Outdoor Games In '14; Dodger, Yankee Stadium Could Host

Fans may see five more outdoor games across the NHL in '14 following the Classic
The NHL is reportedly "preparing to add extra outdoor games to the 2013-14 schedule to go along-side" the Winter Classic on New Year's Day, according to Darren Dreger of TSN. The NHL, "subject to contracts being signed ... will hold five more outdoor games across the league in 2014 following the Classic." The Ducks and Kings will "play a game at Dodger Stadium," while the Rangers during the week of the Super Bowl will "face both" the Islanders and Devils at Yankee Stadium. The NHL following the '14 Sochi Olympics will "schedule two more games; one that will see" the Penguins visit the Blackhawks and the Heritage Classic, which will be the Senators taking on the Canucks at B.C. Place (TSN.ca, 4/16). ESPN.com's Scott Burnside noted the league hopes to "unveil the additional games in the next two weeks." The details of the "various games -- significant undertakings for the NHL and the teams involved -- remain fluid and there remains the potential for change based on team approval, licensing and contractual issues with the various facilities." The "final two outdoor adventures would take place during Hockey Weekend Across America, which runs Feb. 28 to March 2." The Penguins-Blackhawks game will be "at Soldier Field on March 1," marking the "second time Chicago will have hosted an outdoor game." There are "some concerns about diluting what has become the league's signature event." It also will be a "challenge to meet the standards and expectations set in previous years, especially with the undertaking of multiple outdoor games" (ESPN.com, 4/16). Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the possibility of playing another outdoor game, "That was the coolest in all my hockey games -- career, playing (and) coaching. It would be great. This is a great venue. Hopefully, one day" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/17).

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? In L.A., Helene Elliott writes playing six outdoor games in one season is "sure to detract from the novelty of playing outdoors, though if it's in your city and it's the only one you attend it's sure to be a memorable experience -- as long as the weather cooperates and produces just the right amount of cold-induced rosy cheeks and a picturesque snowflake or two." Part of the "charm of previous outdoor games has been the uniqueness of the playing conditions and the chance to hear players tell stories about having learned to skate on frozen ponds." There is one "certainty to all this: Staging so many games in huge stadiums certainly will pad the league's revenues" (L.A. TIMES, 4/17). YAHOO SPORTS' Sean Leahy noted with all 30 teams "clamoring to host or be part of a Winter Classic, creating these other dates on the NHL calendar allows the 'Teams Not Regularly Featured on NBC' to get in a game over time." Beyond next season, "expect to see places like Minnesota, Colorado and St. Louis play host." Leahy: "Everyone gets involved, the NHL keeps teams happy and keeps growing revenues from an event [that] rakes in so much money" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/16).

DOLLAR SIGNS IN THEIR EYES: SPORTING NEWS' Sean Gentille wrote this is "about money." TV ratings and the "resultant advertising revenue are what they are -- the Classic typically pulls an overnight rating in the 2.5-3.0 range, which is far better than your average nationally televised contest and on par" with some Stanley Cup Final games. Just as important is the "cash that comes from merchandise sales, online considerations and the now-standard alumni games." If the NHL can "come close to replicating that five more times, it won't be an issue -- money talks, and the regional fanbases that keep the league afloat may well generate enough of it to make the point moot." But diehard fans "can (and already do) hate the thought of the Classic losing its unique space, and the idiom 'too much of a good thing' exists for a reason" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/16).
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