SAN JOSE –- About four months before the Sharks hosted the Kings at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara last February, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman surprised everyone at a press conference when he was in town to promote the event.
Despite tickets not yet on sale to the general public, the massive stadium would “no doubt” be sold out, Bettman said without hesitation.
He proved to be correct, of course, when 70,205 fans saw the Kings squeak by the Sharks, 2-1, in an event that earned across-the-board positive reviews.
So, could an outdoor NHL game return to the Bay Area at some point?
Appearing on Comcast SportsNet's SportsTalk Live on Tuesday at the Sharks’ 25th anniversary celebration at SAP Center, Bettman left open the possibility. But, it might be a little while.
[KURZ: Morning Skate: Sharks play final road game before All-Star break]
“The fact is we’d be happy to come back at some point in time, but the demand for the outdoor games is so great, we’ve got to spread it around,” Bettman told host Jim Kozimor. “But, that was a phenomenal day. Levi’s Stadium looked great when it was transformed into a hockey experience, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the reception that we got.”
Bettman took over as commissioner in 1993, and saw the Sharks play at the old Cow Palace before they relocated to their current home. He’s seen the franchise grow throughout his tenure, culminating in the jam-packed outdoor game.
“It’s a newer franchise, but this is a franchise with it’s own traditions. This is a franchise that has innovated from the outset – whether or not it was teal on the uniforms, or having the players skate out through the Shark head, or the chomp for the power play…
“This is a franchise that over 25 years has built a tradition, has built history, and has generationally passed the rooting interest within families,” Bettman said.