It’s no secret that the Minnesota Twins would love to host an outdoor NHL game at Target Field, and with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman touring the ballpark yesterday, it may be in the cards.
Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold took Bettman out today to visit Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium, the outdoor home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and temporarily the Minnesota Vikings beginning this season.
Leipold has pushed to host a New Year’s Day Winter Classic game, but has been unsuccessful. With Nationals Park hosting the 2015 game, Leipold has shifted his emphasis to hosting a Stadium Series game in 2015. His timing may be bad — the NHL is scaling back the Stadium Series for 2015 after six outdoor games this season — but it may work out in the end, as Bettman said all the right things about a outdoor hockey game in Minnesota, per the Star Tribune:
“Craig has been discussing with me the possibility of playing a stadium game for a long time and we discussed it again today,” Bettman said late this afternoon. “It’s something we know the club wants, that Craig wants and the fans want, and we’ll be responsive. I can’t give you a date or a venue yet. … The fans, the hockey environment, the weather, this is the State of Hockey after all … “We’re very focused on Minnesota.”
Bettman indicated the Wild would get a stadium-series game before a Winter Classic because “It’s easier to focus on because we have more opportunity to satisfy the demands.”
“I’m not making any promises” as to if the Wild will get one next season.
There’s no doubt the Wild would fill either venue: over 40,000 folks showed up at TCF Bank Stadium for outdoor hockey this winter. Both venues are fully weatherized (and TCF Bank Stadium will see further winterization before the Vikings play there in the 2014 season), with Target Field scoring many points for having plenty of warm spaces inside and out. Plus, you never know: an outdoor game may inspire the Twins to install some blanket warmers.
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