Close your eyes. Picture an outdoor hockey game in California, played between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. See the fans. See the ice. Think about what else would surround the rink on the Dodger Stadium field.
Ice sculptures? Faux snow, like in Winter Classics of yore? Maybe a rink on which young players can compete? How about a large, sandy beach volleyball court where people in bikinis can frolic during a hockey game? Uh ... what?
We imagine this is exactly what you pictured.
This artists’ rendering of the 2014 Stadium Series game between the Ducks and Kings on Jan. 25 was provided by the NHL to the LA Times, which wrote about the transformation of Dodger Stadium into a hockey wonderland befitting California.
A rendering provided to The Times shows many wondrous sights that will be constructed on the field — an avenue of palm trees separating a beach volleyball court in left field from a performance stage in right field, an inline skating rink near home plate, and the rink stretching across the infield — but having Gretzky in the house might be the most splendid vision of all.
Well, that and the beach volleyball.
You know what else the game is going to have? From a reader in a California beer league, an email he received in connection with the Dodger Stadium game, from the NHL's casting manager:
"We are looking for 40- 60 people to fill the following roles: Walkers/ Joggers; In-line Skaters; Skateboarders; Bikers (riding regular bikes - no tricks). They will bring their own bike to game day."
"We are trying to create a Venice Beach atmosphere. Age minimum is 18 years old. There is no age maximum."
"This is a volunteer position. You will be on the field during pre-game ceremonies, and both intermissions. During intermissions Kiss and Five For Fighting will be playing on the field.During the game you will be watching the game in a holding area where a meal and drinks will be served. You will not receive tickets to the game."
OK, but you get to see KISS, right? That's payment enough.
Here's an official shot from the NHL of the stadium, before construction for the game:
Look, our elitist East Coast bias might outwardly chuckle at the idea that the first outdoor NHL game West of the Mississippi (in the U.S. at least) is going to take place on a grassy field with people getting their Misty May and Kerri Walsh on in the background.
But the whole point of having a game in LA is to have a game in LA.
No one wanted to see some prefab winter wonderland that makes a shopping mall Santa’s workspace look like a NatGeo photo of the Arctic Circle by comparison. We wanted something that evoked the unique juxtaposition of ice hockey and beach life, and this captures it.
Heck, the inline rink is actually a rather inspired idea, given how that’s the entry point for many a West Coast player into ice hockey – we’re looking at you, Emerson Etem.
So you go, LA. Wave your “non-traditional market” freak flag high, and be proud that you resisted putting a giant "HOCKEYWOOD" sign in center field. (Please tell us you resisted.)
That said: If we don’t see some tribute to the RHI’s Anaheim Bullfrogs on that inline rink, we’re going to be … well, totally chill, because it’s LA, but whatever, dude.