Plans Fall Through for Outdoor Game

The Democrat and Chronicle reported today that plans for an outdoor game between the Rochester Americans and Hershey Bears at Frontier Field have fallen through.\r\n\r\nEver since the success of the Winter Classic in Buffalo the idea of an outdoor hockey game has been on the minds of every league and organization.\r\n\r\nThe reasons given for the idea not becoming a reality is the costs associated with the event.  Originally planned for Frontier Field it would have cost approx $500,000 just for the costs associated with constructing the rink.  That does not add in any costs for any weather related expenses and also the potential repairs to Frontier Field if the field was damaged.\r\n\r\nThe article also states that the Rhinos stadium was not considered.  Lewis Staats states in the article, “because there are no permanent locker and shower facilities for the teams or game officials.”\r\n\r\nIn an interesting twist, Rochester Rhino\’s owner Rob Clark has said that they were never contacted by the Rochester Americans about a possible event like this.  Rob Clark and Soccer Sam also called Lewis Staats about 3 to 4 months ago to ask for a moment to talk about an outdoor game and Lewis Staats said he did not have a moment to talk.\r\n\r\nIf the outdoor game were to happen it would not be played for another at minimum six months, that\’s more than a enough time to potentially have facilities built.\r\n\r\nThe Syracuse Crunch are also pursuing plans to play an outdoor game at Alliance Bank Stadium on December 5th against the Binghamton Senators.  That game has one roadblock left to overcome which is getting $350,000 in additional funding approved by the Onondaga County Legislature.\r\n\r\nThe Amerks were the first choice as an opponent for the Crunch but when the Amerks started looking into putting on their own outdoor game the Crunch approached the Binghamton Senators.\r\n\r\nI was fortunate to have gone to the Winter Classic in Buffalo against the Pittsburgh Penguins and it was an awesome time.  The day, minus the final score, was perfect from a fans perspective.  As a fan of the Amerks as well I think an event like this would be a great time.\r\n\r\nThe Winter Classic events in Buffalo and Chicago have generated TV big ratings for the NHL and also helped put hockey into the headlines on a day typically reserved for college football.  The bigger question though is without a television deal from NBC, would anyone outside of this area really care about an outdoor American Hockey League game?\r\n\r\nThe cons outweighed the pros for an event like this which is why it is not happening in Rochester.\r\n\r\nIf the Amerks are looking for a little bit of good press about an outdoor game they should just find some folks to flood a field somewhere, setup a rink, and put on some sort of event that\’s not a regulation game.\r\n\r\nInstead of spending $500,000+ on an outdoor game that would produce very little results except a headline take a few thousand dollars and start an annual Amerks WinterFest.  Use that flooded field and make shift ice to get the team out for a practice or some sort of fun skate.  The possibilities are endless.\r\n\r\nEven if everything had worked out perfectly if the Amerks have another season like the previous two it wouldn\’t matter if the event was perfect, it still would not be a sell out.\r\n\r\nUnless the American Hockey League can some how team up with the NHL to have the events associated in some way I can\’t see this being a viable option for any cash strapped AHL teams.  It\’s a fun event to go to, but from the business side it just does not make sense.