Although you would be hard-pressed to prove this by me, the following sentence does illustrate that hockey fever may indeed be gripping Los Angeles. Dodgers President Stan Kasten said he would like the Los Angeles Kings to host an NHL Winter Classic game at Dodger Stadium. It’s not like Kasten has no idea of the dynamics of hockey, after all he is the former president of the NHL Atlanta Thrashers. But in this case, he’s clearly gone batshit crazy.
I’ll cut to the chase. This is a terrible idea for three reasons.
1) The Weather
The NHL has yet to award its New Year’s Day showcase to a warm-weather city. Kasten believes Dodger Stadium can handle the event from a facility stand-point, and in terms of the temperatures, he could very well be right. Twenty years ago, the Kings played an outdoor exhibition game in Las Vegas., and with some technological hocus-pocus, the ice remained playable despite a game-time temperature of 85 degrees.
It’s rain that is the problem. Look at the problems they had with the Winter Classic last year in Philadelphia. It was the rain that delayed the game, medded up the ice and generally played hell with the game. It just so happens that January is the rainy season in southern California.
2) The Stadium
While it is true Dodger Stadium is the largest in baseball, that is also the problem. Previously, this has been done in small ball parks, such as Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia or Fenway Park in Boston. Depending on where they put a rink in Dodger Stadium, there won’t be very many seats closer than 40 yards to the ice.
3) Nobody Cares About Hockey in Los Angeles
Even with the current band-wagon being towed by the Kings run to the Stanley Cup Finals, even though Southern California boasts two NHL franchises, niether of them are in the top half of the league in terms of attendance. To be even more honest, hockey isn’t a terribly popular sport in the majority of America anyway. To be brutally honest, the Winter Classic has outlived it’s novelty factor.
Last year, the Winter Classic posted a paltry 2.4 TV rating, and that was with the fact the usual glut of college football on New Year’s Day had been moved back a day to let the NFL have that Sunday for its final regular season games. However, the Winter Classic was also moved back so as not to compete with the NFL. The NHL was smart enough to not go head-to-head with the NFL, but they can’t even beat college football in the ratings.
The following bowls had higher ratings than the NHL’s event — the ones in bold would’ve been played on New Year’s Day in any other year:
- BCS Championship, LSU vs. Alabama: 14.01
- Rose, Wisconsin vs. Oregon: 10.17
- Fiesta, Stanford vs. Oklahoma State: 9.6
- Sugar, Michigan vs. Virginia Tech: 6.07
- Outback, Georgia vs. Michigan State: 5.14
- Cotton, Arkansas vs. Kansas State: 4.95
- Orange, Clemson vs. West Virginia: 4.56
- Alamo, Washington vs. Baylor: 4.41
- Chick-fil-A, Auburn vs. Virginia: 3.6
- Champs Sports, Notre Dame vs. Florida State: 3.28
- Insight, Iowa vs. Oklahoma: 3.0
- Capital One, Nebraska vs. South Carolina: 2.86
- Sun, Georgia Tech vs. Utah: 2.71
- Holiday, Texas vs. Cal: 2.69
- Meineke Car Care, Texas A&M vs. Northwestern: 2.69
- Music City, Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest, 2.66
Nobody watches the Music City Bowl, and statistically, even less are watching the Winter Classic. Nobody cares about hockey in Los Angeles. Nobody cares about outdoor hockey, and the fact that Stan Karsten can’t wait to get on an empty band-wagon suggests he’s lost his mind.