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.

7 Responses to NHL Confirms: Ice Bowl is set.

  1. habswinthecup-again says:

     If the NHL goes ahead with the Jan. 1 date for the game then they are way stupider than I ever thought. They want this to be the most watched game in the USA ever, but nobody will watch it if it is on Jan. 1 because as everyone (other than the NHL) knows there are about 8 Bowl games on that date which is very traditional for every sports fan in the States to sit down and watch every single minute of every single game, not leaving any time to watch the "Ice Bowl". This will fail misserably, mark my words.

  2. eron says:

    They should have considered making the All-Star game the Ice Bowl instead.  It would make more sense if they are trying to draw in viewers.  Fans of every NHL team will watch an outdoor All-Star game to see their superstars go.  It would also promise a high scoring game.

  3. Wings19 says:

    If there gonna have and Ice Bowl in the US, how can they not have it in Hockeytown? Maybe because they already like hockey there, but still Pens vs Wings would be a good game. Or even better in the 08-09 season an outdoor game in Detroit with the Wings vs the Avs. That would be awesome!!! Maybe by then the Avs would have a half decent team.

  4. hatterson says:

    I had said this as soon as I heard about it.  Sure around Buffalo there's a lot of people, myself included, who will go to the game (or at least attempt to get tickets).  But trying to televise something on the huge Bowl day is just plain stupid.  Yet another brilliant play by Gary Betman.

  5. TheDonkey says:

    But I doubt you could get 75,000 out to watch the game.  All Star games are terrible.   They should just get rid of it and finish up the season 5 days or so sooner.

  6. tancred says:

    I do agree with what others have said in that Jan. 1 is not the best date for this.  Looking ahead on the calendar shows that the 1st is a Tuesday.  One thing to consider is that perhaps the NHL had to work around the Buffalo Bills' home schedule?  I'm not sure what their schedule looks like, but it may have been a factor.  

    I definitely plan on watching this, though.  I wouldn't miss it.  If the Huskers were in a bowl game that day, I'd have to switch back and forth, but otherwise its hockey!
  7. kamullia says:

    I think January 1st is not the best of dates, however the importance of the date for College Football has diminished exponentially. I used to be one of those people who looked forward to Jan 1 because of all the top bowl games were set on that date, but ever since the NCAA changed formats most of the games on Jan 1 are meaningless and people do not watch them as much, as I can testify for myself and the vast majority of my friends and acquaintances. In fact, Jan 1 is sort of a let down now for many.

    Is it the best date? Probably not. But I think it has much more chance than most think, when the choice comes down to watching a boring and meaningless football game between two schools that are of no interest (especially in the early afternoon), or watch a curious spectacle of hockey being played outdoors in freezing temperatures and a big crowd.

    I think the focus of this game is not having people sit and watch the entire game, but create buzz with the occasional watcher and especially the ones who never watch. And I think this might just do the trick and get people saying the next day “Hey did you see that crazy hockey game on NBC?” People also forget that unlike the game between the Oilers and Canadiens was not televised in the US…this one will be televised nationally, so as far as the US is concerned is a first for them.

    I do not know what the outcome of this will be for the NHL, but I think it has more chances than people are giving it, especially in Canada. And the big plus of all this…Brett Hull won’t be doing commentaries. I love Brett, but he sure was terrible on television and no one other than the ones who know hockey well got him.

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