NHL Execs Say Reward Outweighs Risk For Hosting Outdoor Game In California
The challenge with the NHL's Stadium Series is that "fairly or unfairly, they'll be compared to the Winter Classic, which is an incredibly high bar to reach," according to Craig Custance of ESPN.com. A total of six outdoor games will be held, which is an "ambitious plan and one that builds on the momentum the league has right now in its highly successful return from a lockout." The NHL has to "be creative in the United States to generate interest in a highly competitive sports landscape, and these games do just that." But "not without possible repercussions, like cutting into the hype that always builds around the main event: the Winter Classic on New Year's Day." Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who was with the Capitals when they played in the '11 Winter Classic, said, "I really believe that the NHL and their marketing people have done, in the last five years, an unbelievably good job. I've got to believe that they've got a theory and a reason behind it." NHL COO John Collins said that he "understands the risks, but the reward of holding an event like an outdoor NHL game that has a huge impact makes it worth it." Of all the games announced and set to be announced, the Ducks-Kings game in L.A. "has the potential to make the biggest impact." Boudreau said of the weather, "If it cooperates and you've got a sunny night in California -- blue skies, Dodger Stadium -- I mean, the positive ramifications are great." But Custance noted as "cool as an outdoor game in California is," the buzz around it has been "put on hold." It is "understandable since this is the time of year for playoff hockey, but it's also a sign of just how hard it's going to be to capture the imagination of hockey fans nationally with so many outdoor games being offered next season" (ESPN.com, 5/7).
WISHING UPON A STAR? In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel reported it would not be surprising if in "about one year the Dallas Stars announce they will play a home game at Cowboys Stadium." Stars President & CEO Jim Lites yesterday said that it is a "concept that he has kicked around and believes can happen." Lites: "We could do it at the Cotton Bowl, but Cowboys Stadium makes more sense because of the cache of the building. You would do it in January or February, and open the roof. You can turn down the temperature of the ice to zero degrees. ... It's seldom humid at that time of year but it does rain." He added that the amount of planning "would be akin to hosting an NHL All-Star game, and would require several months of detailed work" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 5/7).