Outdoor games need to be scaled back

The Winter Classic has developed into a yearly spectacle that is must-see TV. From its birth in 2008 (really 2001), the game has grown to include numerous ancillary events and games. In fact, the events surrounding the Winter Classic are becoming nearly as exciting as the main event. However, has the genesis of outdoor hockey grown too big?

Beginning with the Cold War and Heritage Classic, outdoor hockey games were a unique take on a classic game. Those original incarnations have helped breed an incredible genesis of games putting the game back to its purest form.

The run of outdoor contests since the original two outings has grown in recent years. It seems as if the idea and glamour surrounding an outdoor game is growing a little too popular. Counting the first Winter Classic in Buffalo and the original Cold War in Lansing, only four major outdoor games were played in North America. Since 2008 there have been 17 major outdoor games. That number doesn’t include alumni, women’s NCAA, major junior or European contests. There is one additional AHL outdoor game scheduled for this season.

Considering that 2011-12 has been the year most populated with outdoor games (eight), it would be safe to assume that the trend is only bound to continue growing. The question that is slowly beginning to loom must be; when will it stop? Continue reading

2ITB Bucket List: Frozen Diamond Faceoff

There is definitely something fascinating about walking into an open-air stadium to watch a hockey game. The same can be said about simply playing the game outdoors. But watching a game has a very unique feel to it.

I was afforded the opportunity to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines play on an ice rink erected down the first base line of Progressive Field (Jacob’s Field). The Frozen Diamond Faceoff was part of a larger event hosted by the Cleveland Indians called Indians Snow Days. The Snow Days celebration included a large tubing hill built in left field and basically the frozen equivalent of a lazy river. The centerpiece of everything was, of course, the ice rink.

Since my only other outdoor hockey game came at the 2008 Winter Classic, I won’t bother trying to compare the two events. They are apples and zebras. However, considering what the Indians did for the game, I was quite impressed with the overall result.

The Indians did a great job maximizing the spectator experience, providing quality entertainment and finding an attractive matchup for a city who has a strong hockey community but little allegiance to the higher levels of the game. Continue reading