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Winnipeg to get outdoor game; Phoenix wants one

Dec 10, 2013, 11:26 AM EDT

stadium view fnas AP

For those who think the NHL is going overboard with all the outdoor games, well, sorry for what you’re about to read.

From the Winnipeg Free Press:

The Winnipeg Jets are set to celebrate their fifth anniversary in the NHL with an outdoor game in the winter of 2016.

Jets chairman Mark Chipman confirmed Monday the league and True North have agreed to play a Heritage Classic at Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field two seasons from now.

And from the Canadian Press, here’s what the Phoenix Coyotes are thinking about doing next year:

The plan would be to hold it around the Super Bowl, which is set for early February at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Chase Field, the home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, would be the most logical place. That has a retractable roof, as does University of Phoenix Stadium, which is home to the NFL’s Cardinals.

It stands to reason that the Phoenix outdoor game would be the riskiest venture of the two, at least from a ticket-selling perspective. If there’s one franchise that doesn’t want to put on a big event and have a half-empty stadium to show for it, it’s the Coyotes.

There would be upside though, provided they could pull it off.

“It wouldn’t be the impact of the revenue from that particular game, it would be the impact that that game would have on us in selling tickets throughout the year,” Coyotes president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said. “Our view is that would certainly help us in driving more season tickets, it would help us in driving (partial season-ticket plans). It’s just bringing more attention to the sport.”

The opponent would be an interesting debate as well. Would they go with Los Angeles or Anaheim for geographical purposes? Or maybe it’s a star-studded team like Pittsburgh? Or would a Canadian team be better, giving fans of the Canucks, Oilers, or Flames a chance to get some sun, play some golf and cheer on their team, all in the same trip?

Related: Washington Capitals will host the 2015 Winter Classic

  1. xdj511 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Phoenix? They may as well put on roller skates and have the first ever NHL regular season outdoor roller hockey game. I mean, I know, they had an outdoor exhibition or two in Las Vegas (Tie Domi tripping on a grasshopper, anyone), but one of these days they’re going to go a step too far.

    • sporkov - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Phoenix actually makes more sense than the game they are putting in LA this season. According to weather.com the average high/low in Glendale on January 25th is 67/40 and in Dodger Stadium it is 68/48. So, in this case, having an “indoor” stadium like Chase Field or University of Phoenix Stadium along with lower temperatures makes it much more likely to have passable ice than an open air Dodger Stadium with higher temperatures. Also, the amount of moisture coming in from the Pacific will have a definite negative affect on the ice quality.

  2. muckleflugga - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    oh well, what can be said…did the egg heads making the decision check wind chill values in souther manitoba this morning

    they’re a hardy lot on the prairies and they’ll treat it like it’s just another spring day, frozen beer and all

    me, i’d be joining the snowbirds in arizona if push comes to shove

    • micasa81 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Me, I’m thinking it might be good to schedule a trip back home to MB around the time of that Winnipeg game. There’s something special about watching hockey in bone-chilling temperatures.

    • nuckss - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      The game would be played in May so it will be only -10.

  3. LampyB - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Phoenix!? What a joke. Lets go watch outdoor hockey in shorts in a place that cannot play outdoor hockey. This is getting so ridiculous. And i thought having one in LA was retarded…

  4. lowenni - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    How exactly does one create an outdoor ice rink in Phoenix? Wouldn’t the ice be terrible because of the heat?

    • imf311 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      there are quite a few outdoor skating rinks in phoenix around this time of year. granted, nowhere near NHL quality. Most phoenix “winter” is 30’s/40’s at night and 50’s/60’s during the day….so its not a completely ridiculous idea. However there is always the chance of 70’s and 80’s

      • lowenni - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        I see. I figured it was possible, I just thought the ice might be subpar for such a big event. Thanks for the input

  5. steelers88 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    There’s a big difference between Winnipeg and Phoneix.

    • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      insightful.

  6. youvebeenphaneufed - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I’d imagine they are thinking they can close the roof to control the climate, and allow them to maintain an actual ice rink. But wouldn’t closing the roof essentially make it an indoor game, and pretty much defeating the point?

    • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      lol do you really think they care about it being outdoors or not? a closed stadium still holds 80k ticket-holders as opposed to 30k. the league could care less about whether the sun is shining or not… their checking accounts are always sunny after they sell 80k tickets…

      which brings me to another point, is there even 80k people in Phoenix willing to fill those seats?

      • thailer35 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        Valid question, but I think with the goal of having it around the same time as the superbowl should help. Plus if it’s a game agains either a nearby team like the Kings or Ducks, travel would be feasible, or a team like Chicago or Detroit that has a ton of fans here in Phoenix, that would work too.

        Personally I really hope this happens. I would love to have the chance to go to an outdoor game.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        you know what? I try not to, but sometimes I forget about the players. Surely the league isn’t thinking about their feelings, but I’m sure there’s some Canadian ‘yotes that’d love an outdoor game in their city. maybe the city doesn’t have a history outdoors, but the players most definitely do.

        lol my opinion on these outdoor games changes a lot….

  7. csilojohnson - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    if they must… do it in U of Arizona.
    close the roof and call it “Stadium Series”
    Really though. One or two outdoor games a year. Big fan of the winter classic. They are running the risk of a watered down event (no Arizona or LA pun intended) doing five outdoor games a year.

    • thailer35 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Why would they go down to Tucson? If there is any way to make sure no one goes to this, it’s to move it two hours away from where the team plays and put it in Tucson which outside of the U of A is a wasteland. Having lived there, I can say that moving the game to the U of A would absolutely be the worst thing for this game.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        not to mention, they spell their own city’s name wrong.

  8. mshantz22 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    I think the Winnipeg game is a great idea, but all of these outdoor games? I understand that is 100% all about the money, but still. They should just keep it to the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic once each year, and for god sakes, play the game where there’s some damn snow.

  9. endusersolutions2013 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    Both the Phoenix and LA outdoor games are absurd, as would Dallas, Carolina, Florida and Tampa. Nashville would be marginal. St. Louis is about the southern limit of reliable viability.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      San Jose too. Due to the moderating effect of the Pacific and associated rain, Vancouver, and potential Seattle and Portland would also be out.

      • micasa81 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        It’s been below freezing in Vancouver for a week straight, and while that’s below average, it’s far from abnormal anytime between November and mid-March. 90% of BC (i.e. Canuckistan) is snow-covered all winter long. In the early 1900s of people playing hockey on frozen ponds in Vancouver. Due to the possibility of rain, It may not be as ideal as some colder cities, but it’s a city and a fanbase with an outdoor hockey heritage. Vancouver is fine for outdoor games, IMO.

  10. mnwildfan15 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    It’s official the NHL hates Minnesota.

  11. jernster21 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Still no mention of an outdoor game in Denver yet it could easily sell out a game at Coors Field or SA Field @ Mile High..

  12. endusersolutions2013 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Teams owners need to realize that there are downsides you have to accept when you locate a team in an areas where ice is an exception.

    I grew up in the Chicago area. We had a lagoon across the street that froze for about 3 months of the year, pretty reliably. We played pick-up games, often having to shovel off a “rink”.

  13. ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    This isn’t going to be new to anybody, but any outdoor hockey game in a climate that wouldn’t normally handle an outdoor hockey game has little point, IMO. The main reason for fans to buy tickets to these things is the sentimental value that either THEY or their teams have a history of playing outdoors. there’s probably 100 people in Phoenix that have ever played an outdoor game, and they’re probably Canadian transplants. The jets are pretty far in the franchise’s past, and with the new Jets around, I doubt there’s many old Jets fans hanging onto the Coyotes. The Coyotes have absolutely no reason to be playing outdoors.

    • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      (aside from the revenue)

    • micasa81 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      But what if the main reason is not sentimental value? I imagine there might be an appeal *for some* in having the desert sun shining down as you watch an NHL game in a massive stadium. Not for me, and evidently not for you either, but I don’t begrudge the league trying this idea out in warmer climes. And I’m saying this as someone who grew up playing hockey in drafty, natural ice rinks in rural Manitoba.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        well they made a clear shift from the “classic” titles of these games in the “stadium series.” these were originally for the history of the game, which came from outdoors. the American south has no history in this game earlier than 1967 (or maybe later). I understand that they’d like everybody to see an outdoor game, but really, I don’t see ice-in-the-sun as a huge ticket-seller in a state that has a tough time selling hockey as-is.

      • ibieiniid - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        sorry for so many hyphens lol

      • micasa81 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        You might be right. L.A. will be a good test. If Phoenix gets its way next season, it will be an even better test. I’m just not worried about these outdoor games in warmer cities, because if they don’t sell well, the league will stop doing them. If they do sell well, we’ll learn that there are other selling points besides nostalgia. But why not let them try? With the upswing in the number of outdoor games, it’s tougher to argue that a game in Glendale would be robbing Minnesotans of their chance for a game.

  14. ipaintrinks - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    its not that far fetched to believe phoenix could host an outdoor game. the league already has a rolling refrigeration truck that they use for the winter classic, adding a roof just sweetens the situation. they did it in tampa when all they had was that terrible glycol system. if i had any say in it i would recommend they go with the smaller stadium. the less heat inside the better surface they can provide.

  15. northstarnic - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Watching the Phoenix flop should be entertaining. It might be enough to slow the momentum of the outdoor games phenomenon. maybe they will figure out that they are slowly killing the golden goose by taking a good thing and discarding any sense of moderation.

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