Now that the NHL is awarding outdoor hockey games like they’re a Panda Express giving out chicken-on-a-toothpick at the mall, there might be some concern that seeing the same teams time and again will foster tedium.
For example, the Philadelphia Flyers have played in two Winter Classics in three years, while the Pittsburgh Penguins will be in their third outdoor game since 2008 when they face the Chicago Blackhawks at Solider Field next year.
So how does the NHL remedy these frequently featured teams getting stale? By putting their games in awesome venues.
For the Penguins and the Flyers, that’s always been Happy Valley.
The idea of 100,000 fans cramming Beaver Stadium at Penn State for an intrastate rivalry game has been something hockey fans have fantasized about since the Winter Classic’s inception.
Penn State officials confirmed to WJAC-TV that they’re seriously considering an outdoor game at the stadium, whether it’s an NHL contest or a Big Ten hockey game featuring the Nittany Lions hockey team.
Associate Athletic Director Joe Battista, head of PSU hockey operations, mentioned Notre Dame, Boston College or Michigan as the NCAA possibilities; and he thought some combination of the Flyers, Penguins and Buffalo Sabres could play there for the NHL.
(If you’re wondering why the Sabres would be in the mix, please note that the Pegula Ice Arena will be opening on the campus of Penn State this year, and that Terry Pegula’s $88 million donation to the school is the reason there’s a hockey program.)
What say you Coach Bill O’Brien? Via Pennlive.com:
“I'd be all for that. I've told [Athletic Director] Dave Joyner that,” O’Brien said at Friday’s Coaches vs. Cancer golf outing. “I feel very strongly about our basketball programs and our hockey programs. I think to play a hockey game in Beaver Stadium in January or in late December would be great for this area.”
Parking would be a challenge for an outdoor game at Beaver Stadium, and so would timing: Battista said with the winterizing that Beaver Stadium undergoes, the optimum time to play the game would be in December – ahead of Jan. 1, which is the official kickoff for the NHL’s outdoor games.
That’s also without accounting for the cost of security, which we imagine for a Flyers/Penguins outdoor game would be at a one-to-one ratio …