Outdoor hockey in the desert? It could happen.
The Phoenix Coyotes have expressed interest in joining the NHL’s trend of playing games outside of traditional hockey arenas next season.
“It’s very attractive to us,” team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc told The Canadian Press. “We’re trying to grow the brand of the National Hockey League in Arizona, which is a non-traditional market. Anything we can do that will help us accelerate growing that brand we’re going to do.”
The planning for a potential outdoor game is still in a very preliminary stage, but the game would likely be held at Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks, in early February 2015, which would coincide with Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale and also provide the most hockey-friendly weather the area can offer.
Chase Field also features a retractable roof, which could be closed to protect the ice surface from rain or extreme heat. The average high temperature in Phoenix in early February is around 70 degrees, according to Weather.com.
“Ninety-nine days out of a hundred it’s sunny,” LeBlanc said. “The last thing we would want, and I think that’s the concern with the [Los Angeles] game, is what happens if it rains. We deal with that issue. What if it rains and what if it’s too hot? But from what I understand, the ice-making is pretty phenomenal, and the efforts that they’re going through to ensure that that ice is up to NHL standards is pretty impressive.”
The NHL has been holding games in football and baseball stadiums for a decade now — the Heritage Classic in 2003 was the first, and the Winter Classic has been held annually since 2008 — but the first experiment with outdoor hockey in a warm-weather climate will come in January, when the Ducks and Kings will face off at Dodger Stadium.
Photo via Twitter/@AugiesPanoramas