The plausibility of an outdoor hockey game in Colorado
The Winter Classic game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres took place in Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo on New Years Day.
Over 70,000 fans left the warm confines of their homes to freeze in the stadium seats.
It was then that the NHL realized the opportunity at hand. According to NBC, the game drew higher ratings than any regular season game had in a decade.
The talk since has been about who will host next year’s game. Minnesota and Detroit jumped up first, waving their hands and hoping for Commissioner Gary Bettman to pick them. Now the question–would a Winter Classic game work in Colorado?
After 12 years and two Stanley Cups, people are still skeptical about whether or not Colorado could successfully host an outdoor game. The criticisms include: “Denver doesn’t have the fan base.” “Denver isn’t attractive enough.” “It’s too warm here.” “The logistics of doing it at Invesco Field at Mile High make it damn-near impossible.”
I say an outdoor game can work here, for two reasons: we have a better hockey town than most people realize and we have a lodging advantage over Detroit and Minnesota.
Sure Minnesota is attractive to the NHL, with the ten thousand lakes and all. Oh and sure Detroit has. cars? But Denver has something neither place does.
The national media has a tendency to look at Colorado as the “lost time zone”. Everything disappears from the national radar. People forget that for 487 games, the Pepsi Center sold out. Winning two cups helped this culture but, long after the cups were raised, the fans still showed up. Recent attendance decline aside, Denver loves its hockey, not all of it Avalanche.
Another thing people forget, Denver is not a one-hockey-team town. We have the Avs, of course, but also the Denver University Pioneers and the Colorado College Tigers. We have the Colorado Eagles and the Rocky Mountain Rage, which was formed last year up in Broomfield. We have the support; all we need is the lodging for an outdoor game.
Oh wait? I seem to remember a certain owner *cough* Stan Kroenke *cough* built an arena for his soccer team, the Colorado Rapids. I know it’s not Invesco, but having the team an outdoor arena under one name mitigates some of the logistics of an outdoor game. Kroenke owning Dick’s Sporting Goods Park means not having to ask permission to hold a game there. Dick’s seats 18,000 (the same as Pepsi Center). Now, how fast do you think an outdoor game would sell out? What kind of national exposure would that bring to “the lost-time zone”? It’s good for Kroenke, it’s good for Colorado, it’s good for the NHL.
That said, I guarantee there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t love to have the game at Invesco field. It wouldn’t be a matter of if it would sell out, but when-especially if they organized a DU-CC grudge match before the Avalanche game.
Colorado has the Democratic National Convention, the Stock Show, and the Winter X Games. It deserves the Winter Classic.
Contact Campus Press Staff Editor Aaron Musick at email@example.com