There’s a scheme brewing in the NHL. Apparently the league floated the idea of playing outdoor games to circumvent the restrictions on attendance for indoor games. It’s not a surprise that Jeremy Jacobs offered that his Boston Bruins as a team that would play outdoor games.
I have nothing against outdoor games. I also understand the dilemma of owners like Jacobs wanting to make money. I just don’t think this is the way to do any of that.
Pierre LeBrun reported in The Athletic that the Bruins weren’t the only team to say yes to outdoor games. The Bruins are joined by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, Los Angeles Kings, and the Florida Panthers in affirming the possibility of playing at least one outdoor game this season. Carolina has even committed to buying their own ice making equipment instead of using the league’s outdoor iceworks. The Bruins would look to playing at Fenway, site of the first Bruins Winter Classic back in 2010. Pittsburgh wants to play at either PNC Park, home of the Pirates, or Heinz Field, the Steelers stadium, for the first month of games while hoping that restrictions will be loosened for indoor attendance. LAK is looking to play outdoor games at a local MLS stadium. Florida is the only team yet to declare a plan.
All of the Canadian teams have deemed this impractical. I mean, Canada is cold. And Canadians are smarter than us. The Rangers, Islanders, Capitals, Lightning, Flyers, Devils, and Wild all said no for various reasons.
Now, after all of that one final thing. Ty Anderson says that none of us should put much thought into this.
Don’t give this Bruins at Fenway Park story more than, like, five percent of your energy.
— Ty Anderson (@_TyAnderson) December 3, 2020
In his article he gives a couple of reasons. The first is that while the Bruins are exploring this possibility of playing outdoors at Fenway, there is little chance that Governor Baker will lift restrictions for live audiences any time this winter, even if it’s a outdoor venue. The Patriots have a much larger stadium and they aren’t allowed the ability to have even well-spaced, socially-distanced seating for fans through this season. The second is that the outdoor adventure will cost fans A LOT of money for the experience. Bruins games are already outrageously priced for regular seating in the TD Garden. Imagine what ticket prices will be for Fenway with limited capacity and with the added expense of manufacturing and maintaining the ice surface outdoors.
All of this might be for naught anyway. With the Winter Classic postponed until next season, Gary Bettman worries that fans will have outdoor game fatigue if many games are played that way this season. They might. While in-person attendance is great for those events, ratings are usually poor. Right now, the NHL needs interest as well as revenue.