Wheels in motion for L.A. outdoor game
Though nothing has been finalized, plans have been set in motion for the Los Angeles Kings to face the Anaheim Ducks in a regular season outdoor NHL game at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, January 25.
The event is “moving in the direction of happening”, according to a Kings representative authorized to speak on the potential event’s behalf. Although there is the possibility that the event could change, it does appear the process is moving forward with Dodger Stadium as the ideal backdrop. Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reported that the game would be played at night to avoid direct sunlight on the ice.
The same portable rink and cooling devices used by the NHL at previous Winter Classic games would be used at Dodger Stadium. Though there has never been a warm-weather outdoor Winter Classic, the Kings played an outdoor exhibition game against the New York Rangers in a temporary stadium housed in a parking lot adjacent to Caesar’s Palace on September 27, 1991. The temperature at game time was 85 degrees.
In international competition, Mexico hosted Bulgaria in a warm weather World Junior Championships Division III game on the Zocalo, Mexico City’s central square, on January 9, 2011.
The rink would remain operational at Dodger Stadium for up to two weeks and would house additional events, should the plan materialize. A Kings alumni game, an Ontario Reign game and a Los Angeles Jr. Kings game could also be events held on the temporary rink.
The event would be one of several potential outdoor games that would follow the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs taking part in the sixth Winter Classic on January 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have previously hosted Winter Classics.
104,173 people attended a 2010 outdoor NCAA hockey game at Michigan Stadium between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, the largest crowd ever to watch a hockey game. The 2014 Winter Classic will likely surpass that attendance.
Formal announcements may come later this month, according to Elliott, with other cities hosting outdoor games on the same date. Yankee Stadium has also been discussed as a possibility, according to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period. The “Heritage Classic” outdoor game in Canada is also likely to be revived.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum had also been under consideration as a possibility to host an L.A.-based outdoor game, as the NHL and Kings were opting for a historic stadium that could accommodate a large crowd.
“I think the league’s exploring different options,” Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille told LA Kings Insider in March. “They’re looking at different ways, and they’re trying to explore the outdoor experience.”
Greater Los Angeles has already had an effect on a previous major outdoor hockey game. When Citizen’s Bank Park housed the AHL Outdoor Classic in 2012, Valencia, California native and former West Valley Wolf Shane Harper scored the game-winning goal for the Adirondack Phantoms 58 seconds into overtime.