Can SoCal come to love hockey?

By Troy Platt

Hockey is one of North America’s longest-running sports and it has peaked in popularity in Southern California. Jan. 25, 2014 will be a historic day in the sport with a game branded as part of the National Hockey League’s Stadium Series. It will feature the Anaheim Ducks pitted against the Los Angeles Kings at none other than Dodger Stadium, or “Chavez Ravine”.

Dodger Stadium, known for baseball games, is an outdoor venue and that makes the game a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007 and the Kings, more recently, in 2012.

With the recent success of these two teams, the question is whether this game will improve the popularity of the sport in California. It should, but many people are not opting to attend due to the prices. Not to mention, the seating arrangement has been publicly scrutinized with many suggesting that it is too far away from game play.

The game will be a great day for Southern California hockey fans, but they will have to pay a premium to watch the once-in-a-lifetime event. Ticket prices are starting as low as $49 and go as high as $279. That is before all the fees that Ticketmaster decides to throw on.

The price alone has been a major drawback for people. It will be the deciding factor in many households on whether or not it is worth attending. Many have opted to just watch from the confines of their home.

Hockey has made its presence known in recent years in the least likely climate for hockey. A few players from Southern California have made it onto NHL rosters: two of those players are Beau Bennett of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a Gardena native, and Emerson Etem of the Anaheim Ducks, a Long Beach native. Both have been playing in the league for a few years now.

Players from Southern California are slowly on the rise and getting to the professional level. Many would have thought the idea would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the sport in a facility or even a climate not usually set for hockey.

The lore of the annual Winter Classic gets many people excited for Jan. 1 ” the usual date for the game. The game dates back to 2008 and has been played every year except last season, when the NHL had only a 48-game schedule due to a lockout.

The Winter Classic usually showcases to two legendary teams, this season’s upcoming game features the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs ” two of the Original Six teams to play in the NHL. League

Commissioner Gary Bettman added five games to what usually is only one game. The five games in addition to the traditional Winter Classic will make up the Stadium Series.

Fans have suggested that the increase of games from one to six is financially driven. With Bettman still commissioner of the league, it is a safe assumption.

Bettman has been the main target of public backlash ever since the NHL’s 2004-2005 season was cancelled due to a lockout and then last season, where the season was shortened by 34 games per team.

The NHL does have a major competitor in college football, especially when it comes to having a game on New Year’s Day. The annual Rose Bowl Game pulls a major viewership every year. Most of the time, scheduling has not been an issue with the hockey game taking place usually around mid-morning and the football game in the early afternoon.

The NHL’s Stadium Series is sure to grab the attention of people who are die-hard or fair-weather fans. It creates a certain atmosphere that many people can see a sport usually held indoors or in a cooler climate. The live experience will be enjoyed not as many that the league was hoping for.

Can SoCal come to love hockey?

Jenilee Umali/The Poly Post

Can SoCal come to love hockey?

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