Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. In the case of the NHL, the league found a winning formula in their outdoor games. The Winter Classic has been a huge hit and the Stadium Series games have attracted big crowds and strong merchandise sales. Success stories aside, has the NHL oversaturated the market for outdoor games?
Gary Bettman recently spoke on the topic, as seen over on TSN, and he doesn’t think outdoor games have been watered down.
Bettman said fans, communities and teams “cannot get enough” of the outdoor games and that “they’re far from being overdone or oversaturated.” After several years of lobbying, the Wild finally landed one for 2016.
“I have no doubt the game will be sold out and that it will be a big deal,” Bettman said.
Bettman might be correct that the game will sellout, but outdoor game fatigue could set in should the NHL keep rolling out more and more games out in the elements. The Winter Classic has already started to lose its luster now that outdoor games are much more common. The LA Kings, a team which recently competed in their second outdoor game, stated that they weren’t impressed and would rather play inside. Unless they’re careful, the NHL will burn fans out on the format unless they scale back on outdoor games.
Outdoor games are awesome. The league initially tried to roll out too many all at once (remember when the New York Rangers played outside twice in a week?), but they have since slowed things down. Playing outside can still be a worthwhile and valuable option for the NHL, but only if the league refrains from jumping the gun and watering down the format.