Even sunny Southern California is getting in on the NHL’s new
slate of outdoor games.
The Los Angeles Kings will host the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger
Stadium on Jan. 25, the NHL confirmed Monday, taking the league’s
new outdoor tradition to its fair-weather teams for the first
Ever since the NHL’s first regular-season outdoor game was held
in Edmonton in 2003, the Winter Classics and Heritage Classics have
never been held anywhere farther south than Philadelphia – let
alone in Southern California, where temperatures occasionally top
80 degrees all winter long.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the plan to take the
Freeway Faceoff rivalry into the picturesque ballpark in Chavez
”At a venue that represents so much glorious sports history,
this matchup of Stanley Cup champions will raise our outdoor
initiatives to bold new heights,” Bettman said.
Although they’re not revealing the details of their plan just
yet, the teams and the NHL believe they’ve got the technology to
pull off the most unlikely outdoor game of all.
”This is a credit to our fans and the amazing support they have
shown to us and the NHL these past few years,” said Luc
Robitaille, the Kings’ president of business operations. ”This
will be a sporting event like no other that has ever been seen in
Southern California, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
The NHL is planning several outdoor games for next season,
seeking to capitalize on the popularity of the annual Winter
Classic on New Year’s Day. Pittsburgh and Chicago will meet at
Soldier Field on March 1, while Toronto and Detroit will meet in
the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
The logistics of creating playable ice in California
temperatures might seem daunting, yet the NHL and the teams are
confident that ice-making technology exists to meet their
standards. Outdoor ice-skating rinks pop up all over California
during the holidays, although the NHL likely would require better
ice than that.
”A Southern California outdoor hockey game in a picturesque
setting will be an exciting, unique experience, and we look forward
to being a part of it,” Ducks general manager Bob Murray said.
An even tougher outdoor game has been staged before in the
United States. The Kings played the New York Rangers in an outdoor
exhibition game at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in September 1991,
with temperatures topping 85 degrees and dozens of grasshoppers
leaping onto the ice. The Kings beat the Rangers 5-2 on ice that
held up reasonably well.
Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, making it the third oldest
continually used ballpark in baseball. Three baseball stadiums
already have hosted Winter Classics: Chicago’s Wrigley Field,
Boston’s Fenway Park and Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.