There is a carnival midway feel to it, with a beach volleyball court in left field, a sound stage in right and a roller rink down in the home plate area. There will be lots of attractions and distractions beyond the actual NHL game, which is a deliberate part of the strategy, according to Robitaille. He believes both the Kings and the Ducks could get a good marketing bump from the event because of its curiosity appeal – and the chance to attract new fans that might not normally tune in or turn up to watch hockey.
“In L.A., the first step was, we wanted to fix our business and we wanted to make sure we were sold out,” Robitaille said. “Now that we’re there, we’re trying to get to the next level and grow the base of fans that we have. We know there are roughly 2.5-million hockey fans in L.A. out of about 16 million people. Playing that game on Jan. 25 there, we think we’ll be able to create a little bit of a buzz – and that people who wouldn’t see a hockey game will watch it because it’s at Dodger Stadium.
“Besides going to the Stanley Cup final, it could be one of the top four or five moments for hockey in Southern California. … I think it’s great for both organizations.”
Boudreau was part of the 2011 Winter Classic as coach of the Capitals and predicted: “This is going to be an event. One of the big things I took out of that game – the build-up that HBO does is tremendous, no doubt. When we got in the bus from our hotel to go to Heinz Field [in Pittsburgh], they were all lined up along the streets, either booing us or cheering us.
“I thought that was the coolest thing. You were either a Penguins fan or a Caps fan. That’s what the Super Bowl reminds me of.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen here, because there’s not going to be the month-long build-up of HBO, but it’s not going to be like a typical outdoor game either. … We’re going to be pretty excited to play the thing.”
So, for that matter, are the Kings.
“What I’m looking forward to is the night before,” Sutter said. “Neither team can practise until Friday afternoon. I think we go on at 4:30 [p.m. local time] and then we have family time. Then, the Ducks practise at six and they have their family time. So it’s the only time to get everybody together.
“We’re going to have buses to take all the families up there. I want to get a picture of everybody on the ice together, because some of the little ones might not remember,” he said. “That whole ambience of Dodger Stadium, that’s the other reason I want mom to come down. I’ll think about dad for sure – because he loved baseball. He loved all the old ballparks.
“I’m so looking forward to it. It’ll be awesome.”
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