When the Anaheim Ducks play the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium, members of the Phoenix Coyotes ownership group will have an up-close view of the proceedings.
The Coyotes bought a suite for the Stadium Series game, which could serve as a test run for other warm-weather events, and the team would love to host one next season, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said.
“It’s very attractive to us,” LeBlanc said. “We’re trying to grow the brand of the National Hockey League in Arizona, which is a non-traditional market. Anything we can do that will help us accelerate growing that brand we’re going to do.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly mentioned Phoenix being prepared to host an outdoor game during an appearance on the Fan 590 in Toronto, and while LeBlanc was surprised to hear that he also confirmed the interest.
“Our view is we presented to the league that we’d be very interested in hosting one,” LeBlanc said. “That’s as far as we’ve gone.”
The plan would be to hold it around the Super Bowl, which is set for early February at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Chase Field, the home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, would be the most logical place. That has a retractable roof, as does University of Phoenix Stadium, which is home to the NFL’s Cardinals.
“The two stadiums that we’d be looking at both have retractable roofs. It gives that insurance policy,” LeBlanc said. “And of course they’re doing (the Heritage Classic) game at BC Place in Vancouver, so there’s already the legacy of having a domed game.”
In a perfect world, LeBlanc said, the Coyotes would host an outdoor game with the roof open. But he added that nice weather is “pretty easy to bank on” in early February.
“Ninety-nine days out of a hundred it’s sunny,” LeBlanc said. “The last thing we would want, and I think that’s the concern with the L.A. game, is what happens if it rains. We deal with that issue. What if it rains and what if it’s too hot? But from what I understand, the ice-making is pretty phenomenal, and the efforts that they’re going through to ensure that that ice is up to NHL standards is pretty impressive.”
The NHL is putting on six outdoor games this season: the Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, the Ducks against the Kings at Dodger Stadium; two games at Yankee Stadium, one between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders and the other between the Rangers and New Jersey Devils; the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field and the Heritage Classic at BC Place in Vancouver between the Canucks and Ottawa Senators.
Daly said on Fan 590 that it was the plan to continue multiple outdoor games next season. The Washington Capitals will host the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day against an opponent that has yet to be announced at a venue that has yet to be announced.
If the league sticks to that plan, the Coyotes want a shot at hosting in order to increase interest in hockey in Arizona.
“It wouldn’t be the impact of the revenue from that particular game, it would be the impact that that game would have on us in selling tickets throughout the year,” LeBlanc said. “Our view is that would certainly help us in driving more season tickets, it would help us in driving (partial season-ticket plans). It’s just bringing more attention to the sport.”