When the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks faced off at Dodger Stadium the state of California and the game of hockey were mesmerized by the amazing display and work that went into creating that atmosphere. This season the Kings will have a similar opportunity as they will be facing off against the San Jose Sharks at Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers‘ new home in Santa Clarita, Calif. on Feb. 21, 2015.
Right off the bat the right two teams were picked as evidenced by their seven-game war in last year’s playoffs that saw the Kings overcome an 0-3 deficit en route to their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Both teams have amazing talent throughout their roster, and the game itself would be worth watching regardless of where it was played. World class players like Joe Thornton, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty can sell the game in any setting.
The setting is also perfect as Levi’s Stadium is a $1.2 billion tribute to modern sports in its amazing design and construction. For the NHL to host outdoor games at timeless venues such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium, it is really cool to see the newest arenas get to show how they can put on such a show. Given how good of a team the 49ers have been, it wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibility to see the stadium host the NFC Championship game and the outdoor game within a month of each other.
While critics may say the NHL is watering down the product with so many outdoor games, the bottom line is they are enjoyable and help widen the fanbase of the league. Anytime games can be played in such amazing locales the league needs to take advantage of it as it is rating and marketing gold. Besides, given the way the Kings played the Sharks and Ducks last year in the playoffs and the multiple “Battles of California” in the NBA and MLB in recent years, the NHL would surely be smart to take advantage of another NorCal vs. SoCal storyline.