Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Currently, the record for attendance at a hockey game is held by the famous "Cold War" game featuring Michigan and Michigan State. Played back in 2001, 74,544 people packed into Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan, and watched the Spartans and Wolverines skate to a 3-3 tie. That game featured future NHL'ers Mike Cammalleri, Duncan Keith, Ryan Miller, and Mike Komisarek. Pretty good stuff for American college hockey, eh?
If the IIHF and European hockey fans were able to unseat that record there's only one thing us Americans can do; lobby for a bigger and better game. I nominate, naturally, Beaver Stadium in State College, PA, to host an outdoor game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. Each Saturday in the fall, thousands upon thousands of people descend upon this college town, making it the 3rd biggest city in the State. Add in 40,000 students, the majority from suburban Philly and Pittsburgh, Penn State's football stadium would be the penultimate outdoor venue for not only an Outdoor Classic between two bitter rivals, but blast the attendance record out of the water. Beaver Stadium holds 107,282 people, but the attendance record is 110,753 set in 2002. Imagine the possibility, over 110,000 hockey fans taking in a game. That is epic.
There have been articles written on the possibility, and the Governor has thrown his support behind just an occasion. Both the 'Guins and Flyers organizations have been aware of the talk.
"I've been up to Penn State for some football games," coach John Stevens told the Philadelphia Daily News. "The atmosphere up there is just unbelievable. It's a great town. It's halfway between Pittsburgh and here. It's an ideal situation. You'd get fans from both teams."
Former concussed Flyer, R.J. Umberger, who hails from suburban Pittsburgh, sees a great opportunity as well.
"Just imagine how intense and fun that would be in an outdoor game," he said. "To play at Penn State there, the fans from Pittsburgh and Philly, it would be insane, probably one of the best games in NHL history."
Naturally the NHL has said the issue has not been brought up with either organization, but I ask, why isn't this happening? If it does, I would definitely be there. Best game in NHL history? It has the makings of it.