The National Hockey League announced today that the Los Angeles Kings will face-off against the San Jose Sharks at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, on February 21. This news was somewhat spoiled by Ticketmaster when they posted on their site about the event info prior to official announcement today.
The Kings and Sharks share a bitter rivalry amongst one another. The two teams have faced-off against one another 41 times since the start of the 2010 season, most recently in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Kings won four-straight games to come back and defeat the Sharks 4-3 in the series.
This outdoor game will undoubtedly be a thriller and withhold an electric atmosphere under the sunny California skies in the later half of February.
I know the idea has been tossed around dozens of times for the Predators to host, or at least play, in an outdoor game in the future; but what are some possible scenarios where the Predators could play in or host an outdoor game?
The ideal situation would be Nashville hosting an outdoor game at LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. LP Field holds just over 69,000 people so it is plenty big enough to host an NHL game.
I know, I know, why would the NHL want to put a team on the national-spotlight for an outdoor game that hasn’t made the playoffs in two-seasons. The little guys need some love too, world; we’re just dreaming for the most part here people.
Let’s be honest here, LP Field hasn’t exactly been electric with the Titans in the last 5 seasons with their best record in “recent history” being 9-7 in 2011. This article obviously is not a knock to the Titans, nor will one NHL game at LP Field spark the fans interest to suddenly fill LP Field for Titans games.
The exposure for fans around North America to possibly visit Nashville and see Nashville on their TV-screens for an outdoor game would do nothing but bolster the publicity of an incredible town in Nashville and a growing organization such as the Predators.
I think there are three possible, and fairly obvious teams that could play against the Predators at LP Field if the NHL is considering highlighting the “smaller-market teams”, such as the Predators, for an outdoor game.
The closest NHL team to Nashville is the St Louis Blues. Nashville is just a short 309 mile drive from St Louis, MO. The Predators and Blues are also Central-division rivals, so what’s not to like about the idea of Paul Stastny and company coming to Nashville to take on Shea Weber and the Predators on a cold winter’s day at LP Field?
Side note: I think the first trip St Louis for Mr. Stastny will be a very loud one. I imagine obvious “boos” from the fans who were hoping Stastny would sign with the Predators this offseason.
But what about the Red Wings? I don’t think anyone would argue that the Detroit Red Wings are the biggest rival of the Predators. Detroit competed in an outdoor game at The University of Michigan’s “big house” last year against the Toronto Maple Leafs where the NHL attendance record was set; 105, 491 fans filled the snow-covered stadium.
The Leafs and Red Wings are of course two of the most popular NHL teams in the world so selling tickets wasn’t too difficult for the NHL. Selling tickets for an outdoor Sharks-Kings game shouldn’t be too difficult either.
The NHL is a business. A business that is growing every second of everyday.
With that being said, I think if the Predators want a legitimate chance at an outdoor game they would need to play a team like the Detroit Red Wings, who’s fan-base covers the entire continent of North America. Ticket sells would go through the roof at a rapid pace.
Detroit’s NFL team, the Lions, plays in an indoor stadium so if the NHL wants to go down that route to host games indoors, let’s just hope they invite the Predators to the party.
Could Predators fans and Wings fans tolerate one another in frigid temperatures at LP Field?
Another interesting thought to chew on is how long is it going to be before we see an NHL game played at Cowboys Stadium. We’ve seen every major sporting event played in “The House Jerry Built”, except for hockey.
The Predators and Stars share country-southern hometowns, why not have a classic “Southern Hockey Night” at Cowboys Stadium or LP Field?
Dallas and Nashville – cities of southern hospitality. Either city would be a great spot for an outdoor/Cowboy Stadium game.
Nashville and the Predators are both growing, an outdoor game displaying Nashville and the Predators would show the rest of the country the city and the hockey it withholds.