Sunday, February 24, 2013

Overexposing the Outdoor Game

The brain-trust over at The Fourth Period, Dave Pagnotta and Dennis Bernstein, have said that they may have found out of some plans to have not one, not two, but THREE outdoor games in the NHL starting as soon as next season. Pagnotta and Bernstein say there could be a series of outdoor games to co-op the losses of revenue from the lockout and the players going over to Sochi, thus eliminating the All-Star Game.

Next year's Winter Classic will be the rematch of the game that never happened-- Maple Leafs and Red Wings from the Big House at the University of Michigan. The other places that have been discussed, as Pagnotta and Bernstein have put out there, are Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium) and New York (Yankee Stadium).

Of course, this is all brainstorming at this point, as nothing has been made available to the general viewing public, but it would make up for lost revenue and bring more attention to the NHL as a whole should this ordeal come to fruition. The multiple games would give more shots to teams that may not be able to have outdoor games, as well as bring in more of an audience for the spectacle.

Though, the biggest question right now is does this oversaturate the specialness of the Winter Classic and the special date on the calendar it has for many hockey fans. Granted, there are a lot of people who love the outdoor game and would enjoy having multiple occurrences, but will that last for long?? I've always been of the proponent that you'll soon run out of markets that could handle an outdoor games, thus making it more limited-- but the league starts to have three games and kill three markets at a time-- how much longer could it last??

It's not as if we haven't seen problems, either. It was too cold in Calgary for the Heritage Classic, there has been weather delays, postponing the start of the games, and overall-- while a successful gimmick in the end-- may overwork those people who have to put the ice together and break it down to take it to the next placement. Dan Craig can only do so much in the allowed time he would need for each venue and a limited window in each market to have the perfect ice so that it's playable and not a danger to the players involved.

Would people clamor to go to the games?? Of course, it's an amazing event and something that many would want to see. The multiple locations would give more fans a chance to see it on a regular basis without having to break the bank on travel. The idea would make up for lost revenue and maybe create new revenue streams to help the league make up for lost money during the lockout.

That said, how many times a year can the NHL go to the well and expect a waterfall of money poured onto them. While in theory it's a great, if you start to take away the unique nature that the Winter Classic (and to a lesser extent, Heritage Classic) has brought to the NHL lexicon, it's starts to possibly devalue the whole thing, leading people to not care as much for missing the outdoor games because they would know that there's another one coming up later in the season.

Leave the Winter Classic as it is and let's not try to give everyone an outdoor game a year because there will be a time where the gimmick has run its course and it's back to the drawing board to think of something better to make money.

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