We looked earlier at what complaints there are to the Stadium Series. However, there are many benefits to these games as well.
First, and most obvious, is money. The NHL is taking big matchups out of their 20,000 seat arenas and placing them in 50,000 seat stadiums. That adds tons of tickets, at higher prices, to the sales for each of the home teams, in this case the Kings, Devils, Islanders and Blackhawks. Along with the ticket sales, each team has more merchandise, such as jerseys, t-shirts, hats, etc. to sell to the fans at the events, and at sports stores all over the country. TV and advertising to the public can be found everywhere, and it brings in sponsorship money that no other sport can do, due to the lack of innovation possible for baseball, basketball, and football, at least in the way outdoor hockey is. The lockout prevented revenue from coming in, so therefore more money this year will help their cause and bottom line.
Besides the obvious financial gain, this opens up opportunity for teams who wouldn’t have hosted a Winter Classic. The Kings and Ducks don’t play in a wintry type of area, and would never land the game. This gives them a chance to host such an event, as well as opens up for other teams in warmer climates to be able to host this event. Also, smaller-market teams like the Islanders and Devils are able to participate in these games, giving them a chance to enter the spotlight, which they don’t normally have. Sure they will have bigger market teams featured as well, but having a bigger market teamed up with a smaller fan base can create some kind of animosity or rivalry, which adds more to the love of the team, and brings the fans in to the arena to see that team play.
The fans are big winners here too, because it gives them more opportunity to see their team, and opens up lots of seats for newcomers to the game, to be able to enjoy hockey’s finest events. Fans of those teams who don’t often get awarded the Winter Classic get a chance to see their teams outdoors for a change. They can all come home from this massive party and say that they’ve been to an outdoor game.
The watering down of the special event is an issue, but there are benefits as to why the NHL decided to bring this in. As much as it may be too much of a good thing, and it was reflected in the fans’ reluctance to sell out the L.A. game and the later N.Y. game, it still brings in tons of new opportunity to a growing league.