By Barry Janoff
August 6, 2014: Heeding the advice of Horace Greeley, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1840s who is attributed (though arguably incorrectly) with having coined the phrase, "Go West, young man. Go West," the NHL will play an outdoor game in California for a second straight season when the San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings in Levi's Stadium this February.
The game, scheduled for Feb. 21 as part of the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, will mark the first time an NHL outdoor game will be played in a venue that also will host the NFL's Super Bowl.
The $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium opens this season as the new home of the San Francisco 49ers and has been selected to host the historic Super Bowl 50 in February 2016. The venue is located in Santa Clara, about 30 miles south of San Francisco.
As part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the Kings hosted the Anaheim Ducks in Dodger Stadium this past January.
The league played six games outdoors last season — four in the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series plus the Bridgestone Winter Class and the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic — but has reduced the number this year.
The only other outdoor game scheduled at this time for the 2014-15 campaign is the Bridgestone Winter Classic, to be played Jan. 1 in Washington DC when the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks. The league said the reduction was not due to lack of support from teams, fans, media and marketing partners, all of which the NHL said was an overwhelming success last season, but more to keep the outdoor events unique.
"The event at Dodger Stadium in front of 54,099 fans this past January was a historic moment for the Kings and for our fans," Luc Robitaille, president of business operations for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, said in a statement. "Our players and the entire Kings organization are looking forward to another fun and exciting game this time against our Northern California and Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks."
The NHL said that the temperature at Dodger Stadium at the start of last season's outdoor game was 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the warmest NHL regular-season game played. The average high temperature in Santa Clara on Feb. 21 is 63 degrees Fahrenheit while the average low is 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the league said, citing statistics from Weather.com.
"The growing excitement around NHL hockey in California hockey, the intensity of last season's playoff series between these teams and the state-of-the-art setting at Levi's Stadium will bring a thrilling new dimension to the Kings-Sharks rivalry," Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, said during a media event to unveil the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. "We thank the Sharks, the Kings, Coors Light, the San Francisco 49ers, Levi's Stadium and everyone involved in producing the next episode of our Coors Light NHL Stadium Series."
The NHL has hosted 13 regular-season outdoor games since 2003-04 and claims a total attendance of 740,251, an average of 56,942 per game. The four-game 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series drew a total attendance of 217,152, an average of 54,288 per game.
NHL Outdoors: Will Six Stick?
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