x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Outdoor NHL games may not shine in the Golden State

The Stadium Series may not be such a fine idea when Los Angeles is one of the sites, writes Paul Oberjuerge.

Detroit Red Wings' Luke Glendening, left, battles for the puck with Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly during the NHL Winter Classic at the University of Michigan on Saturday, December 21, 2013. Chris Young / Canadian Press
Detroit Red Wings' Luke Glendening, left, battles for the puck with Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly during the NHL Winter Classic at the University of Michigan on Saturday, December 21, 2013. Chris Young / Canadian Press

The NHL is justly proud of fan reaction to games played out of doors. Just two weeks ago a hockey-record crowd of 105,491 sat in a snowstorm as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at the University of Michigan.

That game was the sixth Winter Classic. The Heritage Classic is becoming an annual event, too.

What is new is four games collectively called the Stadium Series. One will be played at Chicago’s Soldier Field and two more at Yankee Stadium in New York.

The first will be played outside traditional hockey territory, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and this could be a real test of the universality of the concept.

The league set prices of up to $249 (Dh915) for tickets to the January 25 game between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, but when sales lagged and consumers complained, the top price was cut to $199.

It is thought that about 54,000 tickets are available and, even with the Kings and Ducks playing well, that may be too many to sell in Southern California, where most residents are averse to the “charms” of sitting in wet or cold weather for several hours – even when the LA definition of “cold” is something like 20°C and rain is a rarity.

If the NHL can sell out a late-January game in Dodger Stadium, it will be fair to say the league has not yet reached the saturation point with this concept. Our guess is some empty seats will convince the league that less is more for outdoors games.

sport@thenational.ae

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