More outdoor hockey is coming to California.
The San Jose Sharks are expected to host an open-air NHL game in the 2014-15 season, as first reported by CSNBayArea.com.
Both the Sharks’ opponent for the game and the site of the rink have yet to be determined, but the game will take place at either San Francisco’s AT&T Park, home of baseball’s Giants, or Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, where the NFL’s 49ers will kick off their 2014 season.
AT&T Park has a capacity of 41,503. Levi’s Stadium sits 68,500.
“Our ballpark would be perfect,” Giants team president Larry Baer told the San Jose Mercury News earlier this year. “A lot has to happen with the NHL and how these things get planned, but we’d love to do it. We think it would be a great partnership. We have a fair amount in common [with the Sharks] in the way we approach presenting our games. I think it would be an easy marriage and great for the fans.”
The NHL held a record six outdoor games in 2013-14, but commissioner Gary Bettman has gone on record saying there will be fewer big-stadium games in 2014-15. Sportsnet’s John Shannon, who used to work for the league, tweeted Monday night that fans should expect only two NHL outdoor games to be scheduled for next season.
The Washington Capitals will host the 2015 Winter Classic against an unnamed opponent.
The Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rockies have been in discussions with the NHL to host a game at Coors Field, but according to the Denver Post, that game is likely to be played 2015-16.
Bettman told Sportsnet earlier this year that “everyone” wants to host an outdoor game.
“It’s based on a whole host of factors: the market, where the team is in terms of its competitiveness, the venue, where we’ve been and where we haven’t been. There’s not some magical formula that you pop in. Some of it has to do with timing and what makes the most sense,” Bettman said. “All teams are aiming for one. At this point, nobody has the edge over anyone else.”
Despite humid, 63°F California weather, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks played the NHL’s first regular season outdoor game west of the Rockies, at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25. The sold-out spectacle was considered a resounding success by both teams and the league.
“I can’t see any reason we shouldn’t do this more,” the Ducks’ Teemu Selanne told reporters. “The quality of hockey was great. I’m going to remember this.”