Rumored NHL outdoor games snub Citi Field


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

File photo
File photo

Instead of Citi Field, Yankee Stadium is slated to host two outdoor NHL games.

It looks like Citi Field has been “shut out” from an outdoor NHL game next season.

The Sports Network (TSN) reported the league plans five outdoor games on top of the traditional Bridgestone Winter Classic – slated between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day, 2014.

NHL officials first have to ink a deal with the teams before anything is made official.

Yankee Stadium will host two games in New York, TSN reported, with the Rangers facing off against the New Jersey Devils on January 26, and Rangers vs. Islanders on January 29, nearly coinciding with Super Bowl XLVIII, to be played just across the Hudson on February 2.

The Blueshirts played in the 2012 Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park.

Citi Field is slightly smaller than Yankee Stadium, with the latter able to hold nearly 9,000 more spectators. The home of the Amazin’s can hold 41,800; the Bronx Bombers’ stadium can fit 50,287.

But some Queens officials are already calling the NHL off-sides if Citi Field, which opened the same year as the new Yankee Stadium, is iced out of the plan.

Rob MacKay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism at the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), said he was disappointed the league shot for the Bronx, but is still leaving an open net for a future outdoor game.

“So as the biggest Queens fan on this planet,” he said, “I am a bit disappointed that the NHL chose a different, more remote borough for these games, but I still welcome them. Hopefully we’ll see them in Queens soon, as it would be good for the NHL executives, the players, the fans and of course our hospitality sector.”

Queens hotels will already be stacked because of overflow from the Super Bowl, MacKay said, although the game is at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. QEDC is still looking forward to the revenue these additional games could bring to the borough.

There was talk roughly five years ago of the Islanders coming to Willets Point before the team eventually settled on the already-built Barclays Center last year.

Fan group and clothes manufacturer We Bleed Blue – specializing in Rangers gear – is excited just to have outdoor hockey in New York. Founders Brendan Gebert and John Rizzo, while cheering for the same hockey team, vary in their baseball loyalties. Gebert is a Met fan; Rizzo is a Yankee fan.

Regardless, the duo told The Courier any sort of outdoor game within the city will drive more people to hockey and allow for more games of the sort in the area.

“Getting mad at the location would be like getting mad at Jay-Z for having a concert at Yankee Stadium,” Rizzo said.

“Plus we’re willing to bet that if this goes as planned, this won’t be the last time we see something like this in the area. Guess you gotta just ‘save something for tomorrow,’ and the next go around, I’d like to think Citi would get the next one.”

 

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