NHL Confirms: Ice Bowl is set.
The tentative outdoor game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres that was seemingly in eternal hold, has now been finalized. After many weeks since having set the date aside on the schedule as tentative to play outdoors, NHL central offices confirmed Friday that the game will be played at the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, the home of the NFL Buffalo Bills. However, an official announcement is yet to be made, although it is expected it will be made on September 10th, prior to opening of training camps.
The game is scheduled for January 1st and has been tentatively labeled the “Ice Bowl” in part by NBC, which will broadcast the game nationally to US audiences. The league had originally wanted the Penguins to play hosts to the game, but Pittsburgh declined instead, although they offered to be the visiting team at which point the NHL turned to Buffalo to ask to host the event.
Prior outdoor hockey events like “The Heritage Classic” between the Canadiens and Oilers at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 22, 2003 drew a crowd of 52,000 (the game also included an old-time hockey game of retired players that included Wayne Gretzky). The “Cold Wars” game between the Universities of Michigan and Michigan State played outdoors to a reportedly 74,554 spectators. The Ralph Wilson Stadium has a present capacity of 73,967 for American Football events.