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Volume 24 No. 155

Events and Attractions

The Flyers will host the Penguins on Feb. 23, 2019, in what will be Lincoln Financial Field's "first ever hockey game," according to Jonathan Tannenwald of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The same teams played at Heinz Field this past February, drawing a "sellout crowd of 67,318." It is "not known exactly how many seats will be available" for the game in '19. This will be the Flyers’ "fourth outdoor game, and the second they’ve hosted" (PHILLY.com, 11/19). In Pittsburgh, Matt Gajtka noted only the Blackhawks -- with five appearances -- have "played more regular-season outdoor games than the Penguins." There was "rampant speculation" that Penguins-Flyers could be held outdoors at Penn State, but this announcement puts that "well on the back burner for the next several years at least" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 11/19). The matchup was first reported as a "rumor" via Twitter by SB Nation's Steph Driver last week (TWITTER.com, 11/14).

KEEP 'EM COMING: THE ATHLETIC's Scott Powers notes the Blackhawks recently scheduled Winter Classic game against the Bruins at Notre Dame Stadium in '19 will be the team's "fourth Winter Classic and sixth outdoor game." Fans of other teams "might complain," but playing outdoors is "not getting old to the Blackhawks." The game in South Bend will mark the "second time the Winter Classic is held" at a college football stadium (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/19). In Boston, Joe McDonald wrote, "Some people believe there are too many outdoor games, but I believe there should be more" (BOSTONSPORTSJOURNAL.com, 11/19).

PRUDENT PLANNING: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Ian Thomas notes with the most recent NHL outdoor game announcements, the league "will have more than a year until they are played." By comparison, the two outdoor games scheduled for '18 -- the Winter Classic at Citi Field and the Stadium Series game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium -- were announced "seven to nine months before those games will be played."NHL Exec VP & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer, who joined the league in December '15, is "entrusted with building the league’s events," and better long-term planning "has been a goal" for Mayer. This lead time "could allow the league to bring in bigger musical acts for the game, for a sponsor to have a larger activation or a team to plan more local events, as well as more promotion across NBC, which will also air both games." The NHL is "aiming to announce" the '19 All-Star Game site earlier as well (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/20 issue).

Danica Patrick’s announcement that she will race in the '18 Indianapolis 500 is a "much-needed home run" for IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, according to Jim Ayello of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The '17 race "suffered its worst TV ratings in 31 years of live coverage," but Patrick’s "polarizing presence will surely have the eyes of the nation watching" next year. Few drivers -- or "athletes in any sport for that matter -- divide fans quite like Patrick." Her arrival in Indianapolis will "undoubtedly generate a massive media buzz -- much like the way Alonso-mania swept through the city" during F1 driver Fernando Alonso’s appearance last year. IMS President Doug Boles said, "People are going to come here because they want Danica to do well and people are going to come here because they don’t like the fact that Danica left us and went to NASCAR. That creates excitement." Ayello wrote while having Patrick "in the fold at all is a boon for IndyCar, a competitive Patrick would be even better," as ratings "tend to rise when Patrick runs well" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 11/18). USA TODAY's A.J. Perez notes Patrick's final race as a full-time driver on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series "ended like about a third of her races" did in her final season -- with an early exit. Patrick's car yesterday "rolled to a stop in flames after she blew a tire and she was run into by Kasey Kahne near the midway point" of the race (USA TODAY, 11/20).

Chaminade Univ.'s time as the host school for the Maui Invitational basketball tourney is "drawing to a close," according to Brian McInnis of the HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER. After this week's tournament, Chaminade "only will appear every other year," a decision announced by tournament operator KemperLesnik in October '16. In the intervening years, Chaminade will play two tournament participants at their own arenas instead of at Lahaina Civic Center. The tournament began in '84, two years after Chaminade "stunned the world by taking down top-ranked Virginia" at Blaisdell Arena. The '18 Maui Invitational field, the first without a D-II team, has been "rolled out as its 'strongest field in history.'" Tournament Chair Dave Odom has said that the change was "made in part to remain competitive with other nonconference exempt tournaments, which have beefed up their fields." TV partner ESPN also "had a say" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 11/20).

LAST RUN: In Anchorage, Beth Bragg noted this week's Great Alaska Shootout will be the 40th and final time the annual tournament is played. Some of Alaska's "first live television broadcasts were of the Shootout, which got its name from CBS broadcaster Billy Packer in the early days of the tournament." The Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage "decided to make this year's tournament the last because of state budget cuts and the proliferation of early season tournaments elsewhere, which made it harder to attract top-tier teams." The tournament will be played tomorrow through Saturday at Alaska Airlines Center (ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS, 11/20).