LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Los Angeles Kings are interested in hosting an outdoor game next season, and the Anaheim Ducks would love to be their opponent.
Kings spokesman Mike Altieri said Sunday that the defending Stanley Cup champions are aggressively working to get plans in place for an outdoor game in Southern California, although nothing has been finalized by the teams or the league.
Citing no sources, the Los Angeles Times reported the Kings and Ducks are hoping to face off in a regular-season night game Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium, using the NHL’s portable rink and ice refrigeration systems.
“Nothing is certain, but there is an aggressive approach to try and get something done,” Altieri said.
The Ducks also confirmed their interest in taking on their closest rivals in what would be the NHL’s first regular-season outdoor game in a warm-weather city.
“There is nothing confirmed, but we would certainly have interest in being in the game,” said Tim Ryan, the Ducks’ executive vice-president and chief operating officer.
The NHL has acknowledged it is interested in expanding its outdoor schedule beyond the annual Winter Classic, which draws huge crowds and robust American television ratings. The sixth Winter Classic is slated for Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium between Detroit and Toronto, the league confirmed Sunday.
The NHL also played has two outdoor Heritage Classic games between Canadian opponents. In fact, the league’s first regular-season outdoor game was the 2003 Heritage Classic between Edmonton and Montreal.
Ever since the first Winter Classic was played in 2008, warm-weather teams have been eager to get in on the popular spectacle of outdoor hockey, but the logistics of playing in balmy California temperatures seemed daunting. Yet outdoor skating rinks proliferate in Southern California during the Christmas season, and the teams seems confident that ice-making technology exists that could meet NHL standards.
The Kings’ plan isn’t without precedent, either: They played the New York Rangers in an outdoor exhibition game in a parking lot at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in September 1991. Even amid temperatures topping 80 degrees and a swarm of grasshoppers that jumped onto on the ice, Wayne Gretzky’s Kings beat the Rangers 5-2 on ice that held up reasonably well.
The Times also reported the NHL is considering playing a second outdoor game Jan. 26 at Yankee Stadium.
Three baseball stadiums already have hosted Winter Classics: Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Boston’s Fenway Park and Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.