Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Stop It Already

In the last few days, all of the local papers have jumped on the rumours that the NHL will hold an outdoor game next season at Yankee Stadium before it gets the Ebbets Field treatment.

I think its a bad idea. I said it before, and I am saying it again - primarily because people aren't thinking this through. Everyone is just going 'yeah, hockey outside, cool! I saw that game on New Years and it looked neat. And in New York? Wowsers!' Reread my post from January and then take these other factors into consideration as well:

*One of main pitch-points for the prior two outdoor games were how the game was 'going back to its roots' by playing outside. Well, not a whole lot of players from New York made it to the NHL and the two best, the Mullen brothers, got their start playing on wheels in Hells Kitchen. Unless they are going to put a game out on 42nd and 11th then it has no historical significance being in the city.

*For as much as I worship hockey and how the Rangers have one of the most dedicated, loyal fans in the game, the sport just isn't part of the fabric of the city. Sure everyone rallied around the Blueshirts when we broke the curse, but that was a human interest story at that point that transcended the sport. New York City is a baseball town, not a hockey town. Having the game here is nothing more than a desperate money grab for the NHL and Madison Ave.

*And taking that a step farther, the game would end up being a corporate event for those who want to see and be seen. Sure some diehards make it, but they are outnumbered. That didn't happen in Edmonton or Buffalo - real hockey fans came out to celebrate the game they loved and in some ridiculous conditions.

*Edmonton had Gretzky skating with Messier in the geezer game beforehand, frigid temperatures and Jose Theodore wearing a toque. Buffalo had Cindy Crosby, tailgating and lake effect snow. What could they possibly come up with to match either of those? They are saying the possible Ranger opponents will be Boston, Detroit or the Islanders ... not exactly teams with star power. Original Six is a concept that is only endearing to hockey fans - it doesn't translate outside of the sport, especially since they really weren't the original NHL teams. There were four teams when the league was founded in 1917 - the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Arenas. The Rangers didn't come around until 1926 (and promptly won a few cups). After you get past the team name, how do you market guys like Zdeno Chara or Pavel Datsyuk to the United States? It was easy to hitch a ride aboard the Cindy Crosby phenomenon and without a premier name like that, it will be nearly impossible.

*I have to agree with Yankee writer Peter Abraham, who said that the last thing to happen in Yankee Stadium should be a Yankee game. What would you hockey or basketball fans think if they decided to close the Garden with sumo wrestling or rodeo?

The Winter Classic was just that, classic. To try to capture that kind of lightning in a bottle yet again will be a near-impossible task, and in New York to boot?

Fugghet about it.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

All for the game in being played in Yankee Stadium. I hope it happens

Elliot Spitzer said...

"New York City is a baseball town, not a hockey town."???

I don't think the Yankees are playing next winter. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure there aren't any MLB games this comming January. Let them play!!!

Anthony said...

Can't disagree with you more on just about all counts, Scotty.

First of all, the "game going back to its roots" concept doesn't necessarily mean that the game has to be staged in a market where people grew up skating on frozen ponds. In fact, it's probably more effective to have an outdoor game in a market where people DIDN'T grow up that way, because it's more of a novelty. Brings people in who wouldn't otherwise be interested in the game

I'll agree that hockey isn't the "fabric of the city" the way the Yankees or Mets are, but again, this is for a television audience as much as it is for the live attendees. And tell me that the Rangers wouldn't be able to sell out Yankee Stadium, through corporate moolah or otherwise. I'll buy a ticket and you probably will too. That's two right there.

Is it a money grab? Sure. But our sacred game o' hockey is a business. There's money to be made. The Winter Classic pulled great ratings, and raised interest in the game. Why not try it again? And just about any sports event anywhere is filled with corporate jerks raising prices and not showing up until the end of the first period. Get over it. True fans will be there, if we have to climb the walls.

I do agree - who gives a flying flip if it's Original Six? Get a name out there that they can market the event around. Ovechkin... Cindy and Gina... Heck, even the Hawks and their kids might be fun.

And finally, I wish everyone would stop whining about Yankees Stadium being closed by a hockey game. Waaah. The Yankees will have their send off, and it'll be nostalgic and tear jerking and whatever. But then the building is going to get torn down. Why not do something that you could never ever have done in it while baseball was being played there. I like the idea. If the NHL doesn't make the deal, they should have something cool to put the eyes of the world on the stadium one last time. And why not something classy, from New York rather than bringing in Vince McMahon or UFC or some crappy concert?

Loser Domi said...

I kind of like the idea of an outdoor game, but only one game on one day, like they did the winter classic (one uber hyped game on new years) I'm not sure if Yankee stadium would work for it, but it seemed like they had lots of problems adapting the football field to hockey, so I don't know if a baseball field would be any easier.

Scotty Hockey said...

Hey Mr. Spitzer, you spelled your first name wrong. And the Yankees won't be playing in January but that doesn't mean that they won't still be back page news over the Rangers.

Anthony - the place will be an utter sell-out to be sure, there is no debate about that. And there will certainly be more outdoor games but I certainly don't think they should be regular season games. They should be All Star games ... anything that doesn't count because the game isn't the same and then there will be all of the league's stars to promote.

LD - I agree - they had issues with the Ralph, and that is a pretty good building - the Yankee Stadium is a decepid dump that can barely successfully hold baseball games, much less a sell-out hockey game.

Anthony said...

The only reason they had trouble with the Ralph is that they had a limited amount of time to set up and test the rink. The game was like two days after the Bills' last home game. Yankee Stadium would be somewhat different.

I don't disagree with you about saving the outdoor concept for the AllStar game, but I think that today's owners are too shortsighted . All they'd see is the loss of a big money opportunity for each of the host cities every 30 years.

Elliot Spitzer said...

Scotty, I'm a different Elliot Spitzer, not the Governor, I use a different escort service. You are correct, as long as there are steroids and HGH, the Yanks will always be on the back page year-round.

Brother P said...

Scotty be honest dude, have you ever gone to Yankee Stadium more then 3 times in your entire life? Probably not is my guess. You make it sound as if the place is a piece of shit. Granted it isn't the Ritz Carlton but it isn't all that bad either. Some how the Yankees are able to draw over 4 million to that "decepid dump". So for you to say the place is barely able to hold baseball games makes me laugh. Stick to what you know Scotty and Yankee Stadium certainly isn't one of them.

Scotty Hockey said...

Actually Brother, my best friend growing up had season tickets there so we would go do a bunch of games a season for years. I've pretty much gone once per season in recent years and have seen the grime get thicker, the staff get meaner and the seats get worn and broken. Don't presume to think you know, don't waste your brain trying to guess ... just feel free to ask, I don't keep secrets.

Peter said...

This is definitely an interesting trend: hockey outdoors, now WWE outdoors and NBA outdoors, and possibly another outdoor hockey venue in the future. I like the concept of the outdoor hockey venue, but I'll say this much: if the supposed point is to capture the air of playing hockey on a frozen pond as a kid, then they should find a frozen lake and play there. By the same token, the outdoor basketball game should be at a playground somewhere, played on blacktop with chain nets and metal backboards. WWE should go old-school and wrestle in the dirt, Colosseum style. If the trend continues, maybe one day we'll see Tiger Woods playing on a par 5 mini-golf course.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it's a gimmick made up by some genius marketing execs (like "reality" television) and ultimately, whatever the premise of the event, the actual implementation will be nothing short of the fastest way to make the biggest buck. It will be heralded as a success by the spin doctors and they will immediately start to look for a newer, bigger venue, and so it will continue until the fad becomes so mundane (anyone here ever hear of a "World's Fair?") that no one will go anymore, and then it will cease to exist and will go unmissed, until, 50 years from now, someone reminds us it existed, and the cycle starts anew.

That being said, not only does New York NOT convey any connection to the sport of Hockey, regardless of the Original 6/Rangers history, I think the shape of a baseball field makes it the most retarded venue for a hockey game imaginable. Folks, that's why New York teams don't play football in New York anymore. Because football, like hockey, is best viewed "in the round." Sure, they will probably set up some type of seating close to the makeshift rink, but it will cost a small fortune to sit there, which will work fine for Spike Lee and Susan Sarandon, while the average hockey fan will be sitting in the nosebleed section of Yankee Stadium, hundreds of feet away from the rink, with binoculars and a $40 hot dog, wondering why this "authentic hockey experience" is so damned nostalgic. And likely, I'll be sitting right next to that guy, whoever he is, because, even though I've never skated on a frozen pond in my life, I'm a hockey fan and it's a unique and interesting hockey game. People will take what they want from it, hopefully a few memories and an appreciation for the roots of the game, but maybe just a beer buzz, and that will be that.

The truth is, as hockey fans, we should all boycott the outdoor events, because every ticket sold is a validation for Gary Bettman to wake up the next morning and believe he is some type of genius.

P.S. I know they manage to make it work in Central Park, Rock Center, and now Bryant Park, but, really, New York just isn't cold enough for this type of thing...if you thought the ice was bad in Buffalo...wow.

They should find a venue somewhere in Michigan or Wisconsin or Minnesota, hell, as close to the central Canadian border as you can get, decide to have an All-Star type of game there every 2 or 4 years, and then use the 30 markets to sell most of the tickets to their fans (part of season ticket packages, give away's at intermission contests, etc) in between games, so that it actually BECOMES a tradition, something that people begin to embrace and actually look forward to.

I vote for leap years. They are cool.