SANTA CLARA – Now that the state of California has staged two successful outdoor NHL games, including last year at Dodger Stadium and Saturday’s sellout at Levi’s Stadium, could the league hold another one in the Golden State at some point?
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says yes, but don’t expect it to happen for at least a few more years. Bettman was asked on Saturday if another outdoor game could return to California soon.
“The soon part I don't know the answer to, because the outdoor games remain in such demand,” he said.
“Do I envision us coming back at some point for more outdoor games? The answer is, absolutely. It's been great. We couldn't have asked for a better time, whether it was last year at Dodger Stadium or here at Levi's. The combination of seeing this many NHL hockey fans in California shows you exactly what the game has accomplished – what these three franchises have accomplished – in a relatively brief period of time, if you compare their history, say, to the Original Six.”
Bettman left town impressed with the new stadium in Santa Clara.
“Having this game in Silicon Valley, and perhaps the most technologically advanced stadium/arena in the world, was fabulous. This stadium is state-of-the-art, first class. And, I think this community that can be proud of what the 49ers have added to it with this spectacular facility.
“Just beyond the technology, when you walk around the stadium and you see how well designed it is and how well built it is and all the features it has, it's a wonderful, wonderful facility.”
The league has already announced its slate of outdoor games for the 2015-16 season. The Winter Classic will be in Boston at Gillette Stadium between the Bruins and Canadiens on Jan. 1. TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota’s campus will play host to the Wild and Blackhawks on Feb. 21, while in Denver, the Avalanche and Red Wings will play at Coors Field on Feb. 27.
The Sharks became the 19th team to participate in an outdoor NHL game. They lost to the Kings, 2-1.