Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Minnesota's Outdoor Game Likely On Hold Until 2015-16

Craig Leipold (left) is not thumbs up right now if the reports are true. Photo: ESPN
Early in January, the Wild's hopes of landing a Winter Classic in the distant future looked dim. It still is a dim outlook for that event. So not too long after the Wild missed out on the 2015 Winter Classic, Owner Craig Leipold quickly changed his tune on landing a WC and expressed interest in hosting a Stadium Series game for 2014-15 after seeing the great results from the 2013-14 games.

The Wild were all but a lock to get one only a month ago. It seemed like a Stadium Series game at Target Field against the Dallas Stars was going to be on the calendar for 2014-15.

But then came the winds of change. First came this excerpt out of Mike Russo's blog on Saturday:
The NHL schedule is expected to be released June 22. As of now, that Dallas-Wild outdoors came at Target Field may not come into fruition for this season

Then came the following tweets from John Shannon of Sportsnet:
The first tweet, he references the Winter Classic game in Washington D.C. as the first outdoor game on the NHL calendar. In his second tweet, he pretty much seals the fate for where the second game is, if there is indeed only two outdoor games.

We knew the NHL was going to dial back the number of outdoor games for 2014-15, after having five in 2013-14. But if the NHL was indeed "very focused" on having an outdoor game in Minnesota next year, one has to ask what changed their tune?

TV ratings, ticket sales, and having two successful teams on the ice all come into play when handing out an outdoor game. TV ratings aside, Minnesota did fit the criteria for getting this event. The team has had consecutive trips to the postseason, and tickets would fly off the shelves for this game (Minnesota fills the Xcel Energy Center for a high school hockey tournament. Do not doubt they can fill a 40,000 seat stadium for an outdoor game against the team that previously resided in Minnesota). But perhaps the league found that San Jose and their opponent (TBD. Presumably a Southern California team) would produce better ratings than a Minnesota-Dallas tilt. We may never know.

What we do know, is that you should probably start focusing on an outdoor game in 2015-16.

The NHL Schedule is set to be released on June 22. We will really find out then if these reports are indeed accurate, and Minnesota has been left on the outside looking in for landing their own outdoor game.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

No comments:

Post a Comment