The Kings and Ducks will make history next Jan. 25 when they meet at Dodger Stadium in the NHL’s first regular-season outdoor game in the U.S. west of the Mississippi.
The NHL on Monday confirmed previous reports in The Times, announcing the game will be one of six scheduled to be played outdoors next season as part of its Stadium Series. The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Commissioner Gary Bettman had been reluctant to stage an outdoor game in a warm climate, preferring to keep the atmosphere created in colder locales. However, he was won over by the novelty of staging a game among palm trees and with iconic Dodger Stadium as the backdrop. The league owns a portable rink and refrigeration equipment to keep the ice at suitable temperature.
That will avoid a repeat of the bad conditions that plagued an outdoor exhibition game the Kings played against the New York Rangers in the parking lot outside of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1991. A protective tarpaulin stuck to the ice and created dangerous ruts, and the whole place was victimized by an influx of crickets.
The Kings have long hoped to stage an outdoor game here but it took years and an expansion beyond the annual Winter Classic game for that to come true.
“This is a credit to our fans and the amazing support they have shown to us and the NHL these past few years,” Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president of business operations, said in a statement. “This will be a sporting event like no other that has ever been seen in Southern California and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Bob Murray, the Ducks’ general manager, said the team was honored to participate in the Stadium Series.
“Playing our rival Kings at historic Dodger Stadium will be a terrific showcase event for our sport,” Murray said. “A Southern California outdoor hockey game in a picturesque setting will be an exciting, unique experience, and we look forward to being a part of it.”
Dodgers President Stan Kasten, a former executive of the now-gone NHL Thrashers, emphasized the historic nature of the event.
“Dodger Stadium has been home to many unique and special moments over the past 51 years,” he said in a statement. “We’ll add another first in 2014 when the Dodger Stadium infield turns to ice as we host our first National Hockey League game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.”
The NHL said it will release broadcast and ticket information soon. It has set up a website for those interested in receiving more information: www.nhl.com/2014LosAngeles.