Will Florida ever host an outdoor NHL game? It's 'something we're exploring,' commish says.
Published in Hockey
SUNRISE, Fla. — The 2023 NHL All-Star Game was the biggest event yet for the Florida Panthers under Vincent Viola’s ownership, which leaves one logical next step: an outdoor game
But could the Panthers really bring the NHL Winter Classic or NHL Stadium Series to South Florida? Preliminary discussions have taken place, although Gary Bettman said nothing is imminent.
“It’s something that we are taking a look at,” the commissioner said. “If we think we can with great likelihood accomplish it, we might try it, but we’re not there yet.”
While an outdoor game in Miami-Dade County or Broward County would certainly be the furthest south for an outdoor NHL game, Stadium Series games in warmer climes are not unprecedented.
The Los Angeles Kings hosted the first ever Stadium game at Dodger Stadium back in 2014 and the series will get closer to FLA Live Arena than ever Feb. 18 when the Carolina Hurricanes host the Washington Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium.
CEO Matt Caldwell was glad to hear the possibility of an outdoor game brought out and a source told the Miami Herald exploratory talks have taken place between the Panthers and Miami Marlins about the possibility of playing a game at some point at loanDepot park, with its retractable roof potentially providing some flexibility.
Any outdoor game would likely have to cross county lines, with loanDepot and Miami Gardens’ Hard Rock Stadium as the only outdoor venues in the region with a capacity greater than 20,000.
The weather, unsurprisingly, is one of the biggest hold ups in bringing an outdoor game to Florida, Bettman said.
“Obviously, the weather is a potential issue. Today may be a good example,” Bettman said on a windy, rainy day. “If we had an outdoor game to play today, it could be a problem, but it is something we’re exploring. We’ve tried a variety of new and interesting things.”
Still, the 2023 All-Star Game is shaping up to be a major success for both the league and the Panthers. Players have raved about their time in South Florida and Bettman said he believes the game has set a record by bringing roughly 7,000 guests from out of town to watch the game.
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