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Winter CAL-assic? No!
No outdoor game in SJ
1/8/08 - By Paul Krill

It's been suggested that the Bay Area might be a good site for an outdoor NHL game, like the one played in Buffalo last week. But what if the NHL Winter Classic, instead of being held in Buffalo on January 1 last week, was held at Stanford Stadium on January 4, with the Sharks playing?

Well, this might have been a problem. Given the high winds and torrential downpour that day, game conditions would have been, shall we say, less than ideal. Sales of ponchos and Shark hard hats, to stave off any flying branches, would have been brisk to the handful of fans that showed up.

As we know, Bay Area weather is perfect except when it's absolutely awful, like when trees and houses are getting knocked down by wind and rain. But it never gets all that cold and it doesn't snow.

Even if the weather was not so bad, though, how excited would the Bay Area get about the novelty of this sort of thing? Would there be 50,000 people in the stands similar to the 70,000-plus that showed up in Buffalo? Despite yours and my adoration for our Sharks, the Bay Area aint exactly HockeyTown Pacific.

FWIW, I really like the idea of the Winter Classic. It brings the players back to their roots, when they played on frozen ponds in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Minnesota, places like that. But in the Bay Area, kids don't play outdoors - they play inside because there are no frozen ponds here.

I will count myself as a Bay Area resident who actually has played hockey outdoors. I played once or twice on a pond in Denville, NJ. That pond was so frozen you could drive a car on it. But it wasn't exactly smooth skating out there, with lots of bumps and an uneven surface.

If we want to play a non-arena game in the Bay Area, perhaps it should be reflective of where Bay Area kids got their start playing hockey. So maybe it should be played at the ice rink at Cupertino Square mall, formerly Vallco Fashion Park. That's where kids get started playing hockey if they grow up in the Bay Area, don't they? Or, perhaps, we can get players to put on roller blades and just play the game right on the asphalt in the HP Pavilion parking lot.

But playing a game in at outdoor stadium? There are just too many question marks about the weather (Too bad? Too good?) and public reception (Will enough people fill the stands or just the usual 17,496?).

So, let's keep the NHL's Winter Classic in places where it belongs: In places cold enough to actually have snow on cars and front lawns. It doesn't belong in the Bay Area, where the snow remains safely on a mountaintop in the distance, even if only for a few days.

Should the Sharks host a Winter Classic? Vote in our debate poll.

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