Palm trees and ice?
Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times reported that there have been discussions between the Los Angeles Kings and the National Hockey League over hosting a future outdoor game in the city, perhaps as an additional Winter Classic event. The Fourth Period also wrote in February of the possibility of Los Angeles hosting an outdoor NHL game.
Outdoor games in warmer climates have been held before; an exhibition game between the Kings and New York Rangers was held on a temporary rink in a parking lot adjacent to Caesar’s Palace in 1991 and held up considerably well. Mexico also defeated Bulgaria in the 2011 Division III World Junior Championships on an outdoor rink set up on the Zócalo, Mexico City’s main square.
While the images of a palm tree-silhouetted sunset amidst Chavez Ravine’s rolling hills would make Dodger Stadium seem like an ideal home for a Southern California-hosted outdoor game, the iconic Los Angeles Coliseum, which hosted an announced 115,300 fans for a Dodgers-Red Sox exhibition in 2008, could be another serious option.
The league is committed to hosting a Detroit Red Wings – Toronto Maple Leafs Winter Classic in 2014 at Michigan Stadium, keeping in line with the northeast and Midwest geographical footprint of NHL-hosted outdoor games in the United States. Edmonton (November, 2003) and Calgary (February, 2011) have also hosted Heritage Classic outdoor games, both featuring the Montreal Canadiens as the visiting team.
The only outdoor game to have been hosted in the Pacific Time Zone was a Western Hockey League game between the Spokane Chiefs and Kootenay Ice. The game was played in front of 7,075 fans at Spokane’s Avista Stadium, the home of the short season Single-A Spokane Indians of the Northwest League.
I spoke with the Los Angeles Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille in San Jose on Thursday about the possibility of the Kings hosting an outdoor game.
Robitaille on Los Angeles hosting an NHL outdoor game:
“I’m a big believer in bringing an outdoor game into L.A. I played in 1991 in Vegas. 85 degrees, and we had pretty good ice. So I’m a believer in it. So it’s certainly something that I think would be great for our franchise. I know our fans would support it. I know L.A. would support it, and so if the league needs anything from us, we will do whatever it takes. We would love to have an outdoor game.”
Robitaille, on whether the league wants to have an outdoor game in Los Angeles:
“I think the league’s exploring different options. They’re looking at different ways, and they’re trying to explore the outdoor experience. They understand, too, I think, that the systems are a little bit better now. They’re looking at different ways.”