The NHL season, if it ever does indeed get underway, could be an ODR lover’s dream.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that at least four teams are “exploring the possibility” of staging their home games in outdoor venues, with an eye on maximizing their ability to drive gate revenue.
These franchises include the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins, Friedman reports.
Three of the four franchises mentioned each have experience hosting outdoor events in the last decade. The Bruins have hosted games at both Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, and the Penguins have staged a Winter Classic at Heinz Field. Meanwhile, the Kings were at the wheel for the first Stadium Series event in 2014, with the Ducks serving as the visiting team at Dodger Stadium.
Friedman notes that the Ducks and Kings have discussed splitting a timeshare at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles, which is under the label of the Kings’ ownership group, Anschutz Entertainment.
While it might be reduced slightly for the Kings and Ducks, this associated cost would be significant for these teams trying to make back lost revenue at the gate. Friedman writes that “even the most no-frills outdoor event would run into the millions,” so gauging the appetite for fans to not only brave the cold, but to enter an unsecured environment to watch a live sports event, will be essential in the cost assessment.
The other hurdle would be convincing the players, who may not be comfortable with mixing outdoor games into the schedule. With negotiations on shaky ground already, asking the players to accept what could be perceived as more risk could further threaten the process — even if it is being considered with designs of increasing revenue, something both sides are desperate to accomplish.
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