As the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Mighty Ducks continue their quests for the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League announced Monday that the two teams will face off in an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium next January 25th.
The NHL has had great success with outdoor games, and the Kings have been a part of it. In 1991, the Kings beat the New York Rangers in the NHL's first outdoor exhibition game in a parking lot at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in front of 13,000 fans. There should be far more at the Freeway Face-off at Chavez Ravine, as Dodger Stadium can seat 56,000 people .
"We would expect and hope for a capacity crowd," said Mike Altieri, Vice President of Communications and Broadcast for AEG, which owns the Kings.
The NHL is continuing to promote a rivalry it credits with solidifying pro hockey's popularity in Southern California. "At a venue that represents so much glorious sports history, this match-up of Stanley Cup champions will raise our outdoor initiatives to bold new heights," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. The Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, and the Kings won it last year.
First outdoor face-offs
The first-ever NHL regular-season game played outdoors was in 2003 when the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium. Since then, the NHL has played six more regular-season outdoor games. The NHL says the Ducks-Kings matchup in Dodger Stadium will be the first played in the U.S. west of the Mississippi River, the southern-most outdoor NHL game ever, and the first in California.
It will certainly be the first one played at Dodger Stadium, and the history isn't lost on Dodgers President Stan Kasten.
"Dodger Stadium has been home to many unique and special moments over the past 51 years," said Kasten. "We'll add another first in 2014 when the Dodger Stadium infield turns to ice ."
Baseball diamond to hockey ice
That's no easy task. The NHL has designed its own mobile refrigeration unit and rink system. The NHL explains in a statement how the 53-foot, 300-ton capacity refrigeration unit builds a hockey rink:
The unit pumps as much as 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant into custom-made aluminum trays that are configured on the field of the stadium. Running through a series of hoses from the refrigeration unit to the field, the glycol chills the trays in order to keep the ice near its ideal temperature – 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Following the placement of the ice trays, the rink boards are installed.
Once the boards are up and the ideal surface temperature is attained, the actual process of building the ice begins. In an NHL arena, the ice is built to a thickness of approximately 1- 1.25 inches. An outdoor rink, however, requires up to 2 inches of ice thickness to help withstand the more extreme elements. While many speculate that it takes special water to create the ice, the water used is the same tap water provided into everyone’s homes.
Water is added as slowly as possible, in as fine a mist as the process will allow. Workers pass the spray wand over the ice rink hundreds of times, providing a more-even freeze and better-quality playing surface. Each inch of ice thickness requires approximately 10,000 gallons of water. For finishing touches, the ice surface is whitened using approximately 350 gallons of paint. The lines and logos then are painted and placed on the surface, with more ice built on top.
Once constructed, monitoring the status of the ice is a 24-hour job. To help this process, a high-tech system called Eye on the Ice is embedded in the surface. The technology provides updates on temperatures at different areas of the ice, signaling an alert prompting the need to pump more glycol or engage the in-line heating system in case the weather gets too cold.