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Expect More Outdoor Games

from David Ebner of the Globe and Mail,

Some skeptics have moaned about the proliferation of outdoor games, but the contests are being embraced by fans and marketers. Sponsors pour money into the games, and tickets sell fast. A sellout of the 55,000 available in Vancouver for the March 2 game against the Ottawa Senators is expected, and two games at Yankee Stadium scheduled near the Super Bowl are close to sold out.

The 110,000 or so predicted to fill the Big House at the University of Michigan, showcasing the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings in the Winter Classic, will be record-setting.

This is the business of the NHL operating with more oomph than it’s ever had before. The half-dozen outdoor games is part of the reason next year’s salary cap is shooting up by around $6-million (U.S.) toward $71-million – and the games are a visible display of a league buoyed by a big-time new TV contract in Canada and strong exposure on NBC in the United States. The NHL is becoming less and less a poor cousin of the NFL, MLB and the NBA.

Expect more, not fewer, outdoor games on the long NHL calendar in the year ahead, tied, of course, with special television programming. The days of one per winter are past.

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Comments

Primis's avatar

Maaaaaaaaaybe we should see how the OTHER outdoor games not in Ann Arbor do first before we call for even more.

I mean, just a suggestion.  I have a sneaking suspicion at least one of them will be underwhelming, and the shine will have worn off rather quickly.  It’ll make teams question the wisdom of the blatant money grabs if the money isn’t quite so guaranteed.

Posted by Primis on 12/11/13 at 04:33 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

^^ If you’re talking about LA, I agree and never supported the game here. Curious about how the finances will turn out, though with the population density here, it’ll probably draw enough to be a modest success.

I’ve played outdoors in the deep freeze of winter and can appreciate it, but it’s clearly become an overdone gimmick. What’s next, Tampa and Sunrise? The appeal of driving, parking, possibly sitting near some non-hockey wannabe badasses is pretty minimal at this point, though it won’t be hard to find tix if I change my mind.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 12/11/13 at 05:28 PM ET

SYF's avatar

John Collins should’ve put up his hands and said, “Enough.”

Posted by SYF from Alana Blanchard's Bikinis and Surfboards on 12/11/13 at 09:25 PM ET

Avatar

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…...they should have never gotten rid of the rover…then they let goalies flop around….ugh they drop the two line pass…....hiss they have more than 6 teams….....boohooo they have teams in sunny places…..drat they get 5.2 billion for TV…..gasp NBC puts games on national TV…..arghhhhhhhhhhh Russians play hockey…...@#@$#% they impose the instigator penalty…..horrors they play games outdoors…. change must be stopped, too much success…..we hate everything….. EVIL GARDEN GNOME.

Posted by timbits on 12/12/13 at 12:11 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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