The NHL is reportedly close to announcing plans for six outdoor contests in the 2013-2014 season, expanding the league’s popular Winter Classic series to a number of football and baseball stadiums.
The series will kick off with the Winter Classic, played on New Year’s Day in Ann Arbor, Michigan between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. The game will be a makeup, as the original contest was scheduled for January 1, 2013 but canceled as the NHL lockout stretched into the season.
The series will also reportedly include games in New York, Chicago, Vancouver, and even warm weather Los Angeles.
A source close to the league said the NHL hopes to announce the six outdoor games within the next week.
Three of the games will reportedly be played in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The NHL would reportedly try to capitalize off the media attention by having the New York Rangers play two outdoor games at Yankee Stadium against the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
The other games would be played during Hockey Weekend Across America at the end of February, with the Chicago Blackhawks taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field and Vancouver Canucks hosting the Ottawa Senators.
The NHL had already announced its intention for multiple outdoor games. At a press conference unveiling the 2014 Winter Clasic, the leagues chief operating officer John Collins said there would definitely be more outdoor games to come.
“It’s not necessarily a new conversation,” Collins said at the press conference. “We’ve been looking at this and talking about this for a while. But I think now we’re looking at it real hard.”
The NHL suffered a hit when it lost out on the Winter Classic in 2013, an event that has stretched its brand and earned much-needed national attention. Though some have expressed concern that multiple outdoor games could water down the Winter Classic, others see it as a smart move on the league’s part.