File this one in the “didn’t see it coming” folder. According to Sportsnet and Elliotte Friedman, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of four teams looking into playing some or all of their home games outdoors this season.
That is one way to get around restrictions to have fans in the stands.
Friedman reported the LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and Boston Bruins are the other teams.
Sportsnet also acknowledged it’s a long shot at best. The cost to occupy an outdoor stadium is in the millions per game.
“It’s being explored,” a league exec told Sportsnet.
While LA looked into a local soccer stadium that seats 27,000 and is also owned by the LA Kings owner, Boston inquired about Fenway Park. The Pittsburgh Penguins reportedly inquired about both Heinz Field and PNC Park.
Though the Steelers will likely be using Heinz Field at least through January, perhaps the Pirates could rent out PNC Park and ply their games at a place more suitable for several hundred fans?
We kid, we kid.
Besides the exorbitant costs and logistics, one must wonder if the ice quality would be acceptable for consistent regular-season games. And, would players be down for such inconvenience?
Currently, California restrictions would also prohibit either team from playing their games outdoors (unless California Gov. Gavin Newsome thought it was a party with donors).
The NHL and NHLPA are currently wrangling over details for the coming NHL season, including possibly renegotiating the recently signed CBA agreement and NHL Return to Play details.
On Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denied the league was attempting to renegotiate the agreement but conceded the owners want to make changes based on current economic challenges.
The two sides have not yet set a start date for the 2020-21 NHL season. The NHL had tentatively targeted Jan. 1, but it appears the two sides will miss the target dates to achieve that beginning.
Sportsnet notes all teams declined to comment on the report.