Monday, January 14, 2008
Yankee Stadium? No Thanks ...
I like John Dellapina. I think he does a very good job as a Rangers beat writer for the Daily News. I read his blog regularly. But I have to say that I think his story yesterday was a little crazy. Granted, it was just good reporting, but it again broaches the idea of an outdoor game in New York - specifically at Yankee Stadium between the Rangers and the Islanders.
Frankly, its a bad idea.
Simply said, Yankee Stadium would suck as a venue. The Daily News tried to give people an idea of what the rink would look like with what BMR called the Worst. Photoshop. Ever. BMR also gave some venues just as ridiculous as Yankee Stadium, you know, like the moon.
You may laugh but the House that Ruth built is really not suited for an outdoor hockey game between the Rangers and Islanders, no matter how badly Bettman would love to market it. Having been to the Stadium, and having gone to the Winter Classic in Buffalo, I feel safe saying that this is a really bad idea. It's one thing to have Buffalo and Pittsburgh, it's another to get the Rangers and Islanders. The Sabres and the Penguins have little bad blood between them; the Blueshirts and Fishermen certainly do as one of the biggest rivalries in the game. Could you imagine the PR fiasco that would result if another Chris Simon incident happened before a national audience on New Years? Or even another brawl? The league is clearly not in favour of fighting, just think of what Bettman would do if this happened again ...
That isn't to say that the fans wouldn't love it, but they -- we -- are another problem. I don't think I have ever been to a single game against the Islanders where a fight in the stands didn't break out. Now, in recent years they have been small in scale and not very damaging but in the mid 80's, the tussles were legendary. Now move them to the Bronx, where its almost impossible to move around. I went to a Yanks/Sawx game last season and watched as security struggled to run single file along the upper deck to get to a drunken fight near the top. That game (strangely) wasn't even sold out but a Rangers/Isles game would be a packed house of 57,545 hockey fans. Not necessarily a recipe for disaster, but certainly one that would need large amounts of crowd control.
Another factor would definitely be the weather. Everyone raved about the snow in Buffalo, but at the same time back in the city it was in the 40s and a week later, the mid-60s. That doesn't bode well for good ice conditions. Granted, the NHL's ice gurus would have more than a week to set up (likely three months since the Yankees won't make the postseason without some pitching), but for as much magic as they can whip up, if Mother Nature is not cooperative, it could make for an awful game.
And that's another thing - the Winter Classic was an amazing experience, but even I can admit that the quality of hockey was really quite poor. Do we want to waste what could be an important divisional battle on what should be an exhibition game?
You know I would be right there if the league did set this game up, but I truly think that the league should explore other options first: primarily the idea of moving the All Star Game outdoors. As I've said several times, it would bring the league's brightest stars out under the sky and into millions of homes on New Years Day. It also would not demean a regular season game that could eventually have playoff implications. What happens if Buffalo misses the playoffs by one point this season? Or what about the Rangers? If Buffalo makes it by one point over the Blueshirts, fans should be outraged because the two Winter Classic teams clearly did not put forth their best effort and still earned points in the standings.
I know I would be furious, and you should be too. And that is the main reason why the NHL should not place a regular season outdoors at all, and certainly not in Yankee Stadium.