Two of the biggest NHL events are the Winter Classic and the Stadium Series. The Winter Classic is a regular season hockey game that is played outdoors. The game usually takes place in football or baseball stadiums that are usually near any NHL team. It takes place on or around New Year’s Day. The Stadium series is also a regular hockey game that is played outdoors but it is different from the Winter Classic as more teams are usually involved with multiple stadiums. The Winter Classic began in 2008 and the most recent one took place on January 1. The Washington Capitals faced the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. The Capitals won the game by a score of 3-2.
The Winter Classic has become one of the most successful NHL events and matchups usually feature the league’s superstars as well as the most popular teams. The event is the highest attendance for that year and some of the biggest TV ratings. The Winter Classic is the reason behind the creation of the Stadium series as the outdoor game became very popular to hockey fans. The Stadium series began in 2014 and the most recent game took place on Feb 21st 2015. The Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California and the Kings won the game by a score of 2-1.
As the demand grows for more outdoor games more options for venues are going to be needed. Teams want to apart of the event and there are many great stadiums that have yet to be used. Listed below are the top 10 venues the NHL should consider for future outdoor games.
10 Carter - Finley Stadium
The city of Raleigh, North Carolina has hosted the NHL Entry Draft as well as All Star weekend before so why not the outdoor game as well? The best venue to host the outdoor game is Carter -Finley stadium. It is currently the home of the North Carolina State Wolfpack football team. The Carolina Hurricanes could play a divisional opponent such as the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins, as to attract spectators with visiting superstars. The outdoor game could spark interest from local fans as well as the visiting fans. It would also provide exposure for both the NHL and the Carolina Hurricanes in a market that needs a little boost. They'd be an interesting choice to host a future outdoor game.
9 AT&T Stadium
8 Parc Jean Drapeau
7 Commonwealth Stadium
6 LP Field
5 Lambeau Field
4 Busch Stadium
3 Beaver Stadium
Hockey is huge in the state of Pennsylvania and what better way to showcase it than in Beaver Stadium? Beaver Stadium is home to the Penn State Nittany Lions. It is located in University Park, Pennsylvania, sitting right between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, making it the perfect setting for a Flyers/Penguins clash.
Beaver Stadium is the second largest college football stadium in the Western Hemisphere. It also has a grand seating capacity of 106,572. The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins could play against one another in the "Battle for Pennsylvania". Both the Penguins and Flyers have strong fan bases that would easily fill up the seats at Beaver Stadium. Can you imagine the cool division of orange and gold in the crowd?
2 Notre Dame Stadium
1 Ohio Stadium
The top venue to hold an NHL outdoor game is in the state of Ohio. Ohio Stadium is currently home to the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. It's time for the city of Columbus to be given some excitement, by going to the horse shoe to watch their Blue Jackets in a high profile game. The playoff crowd in Columbus last year showed much promise for the city as a hockey market.
The Blue Jackets could play the Penguins, Red Wings, Rangers or Flyers. The NHL should take Ohio Stadium into consideration due to the large seating capacity that could hold a lot of home and visiting fans. The stadium also has been given great reviews in terms of the fan experience. Plus the city just recently hosted the 2015 All Star Game weekend. Ohio is a growing hockey market and adding either the Winter Classic or Stadium Series would help expand further growth.
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