Here Comes Outdoor Hockey at Dodger Stadium
Thursday afternoon at Dodger Stadium the Kings and the Ducks came together to formally unveil the Los Angeles version of the Stadium Series. With the infield marked by barriers where the ice will set up, officials from the NHL, the Dodgers and both teams looked forward to the game scheduled on January 25.
Dodger president Stan Kasten was really excited about the event. "What will distinguish this event from all the other events in the Stadium Series is no one is going to have the shot we're going to have," he said. "No one is going to have the shot of that great NHL sheet of ice in front of our bleachers, our palm trees and our San Gabriel Mountains."
The Kings-Ducks game will launch the Stadium Series that includes two games at Yankee Stadium: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers on Jan. 26 and New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers on Jan. 29. The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins will close the series out on Mar. 1 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
In prior years the NHL hosted two outdoor games: the Winter Classic on New Years Day and the Heritage Classic. A lot of fans worried that having six outdoor games would tarnish the novelty of the concept, however NHL commissioner Gary Bettman disagreed.
"The reaction of the fans — the intensity, the emotion, the excitement — is off the charts," Bettman said. "What we're hearing from our fans, from our clubs and from the markets in which we play is they can't get enough of these. Teams that have had a game don't want to wait 10 or 15 year to get another one, and teams that haven't been in one want to be in one.
"The number of games is dictated more by what we can handle logistically because the level of interest is off the charts."
When the Kings broke their playoff drought in 2010, Bettman was asked about the possibility of getting an outdoor game here in Los Angeles. He sheepishly danced around the question back then. Three years later, reality is here. What changed?
"Dan Craig, our expert ice maker, has repeatedly told me that he could make it work, that it won't be a problem, that the ice will be good," Bettman said.
The average temperature in Los Angeles in January is 68 degrees, though it has been known to get as high as the 90s. That would probably be considered the worst case scenario, so I suppose we'll see what happens if that is the case.
A note of advice when purchasing tickets for the game. Avoid field level and field box seats close to the field. The view isn't that great. The best seats will probably be in the loge section or in the back of the field level.