Swiss team playing for Champions League title loses home ice to figure skating show

ZURICH, Switzerland – Salchows instead of slapshots, skirts instead of sticks. A Swiss ice hockey club playing for the European championship has been bumped out of its home rink by a figure skating show.

The Zurich Lions are supposed to host defending champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the second leg of the Champions Hockey League final Jan. 28 at their Hallenstadion home. But venue management have told them they need the arena to prepare for the Art on Ice show.

“It’s a business for them,” Lions chief executive Peter Zahner said Thursday. “The arena is fully booked and they need a couple of days to prepare for the show.”

The Lions’ game will instead be played 34 kilometres away at the stadium of Swiss League rival Rapperswil-Jona Lakers.

The Lions also played their semifinal there, beating Espoo 6-3 followed by a 4-1 win in Finland on Wednesday.

Still, losing their home ice for the final will hit Zurich hard at the box office. The borrowed arena holds 6,200 fans instead of a assured sellout of 10,700 at home.

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“It’s a lot of money for us to lose,” Zahner said. “It’s a very nice arena, very tight.

“And it’s better to be in the final and play somewhere else than not be there.”

Zurich will still net a profit of 1 million Swiss francs (C$1.08 million) from playing in the inaugural Champions Hockey League.

Art On Ice stars Olympic silver medallist Stephane Lambiel and ice dance world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder. Hallenstadion needed two days to prepare the area for the show’s four-night run, beginning Jan. 29.

Magnitogorsk will host the first leg of the European club final Jan. 21.

The International Ice Hockey Federation hopes to match the European champion against the Stanley Cup winner each year.