It’s finally been made official.
The San Jose Sharks will host the Los Angeles Kings in an outdoor NHL game this season on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
News that the Sharks were expected to host one of the league’s premier events was first reported here on June 2, and it was learned later that month that Levi’s Stadium, the home of the NFL’s 49ers, was the likely venue. Earlier this week, an apparent Ticketmaster error teased that location, too.
Levi’s Stadium held it’s first event last Saturday night, when the San Jose Earthquakes hosted the Seattle Sounders in a Major League Soccer match.
The Sharks-Kings game will be the NHL’s 14th outdoor game since the institution of the Winter Classic in 2008. Last season, there were six outdoor games in New York (two), Vancouver, Chicago, Michigan and Los Angeles.
The Kings-Ducks game in Los Angeles on Jan. 25 was viewed as a resounding success, showing that an outdoor game could work in a warm weather climate. According to Wikipedia, the average temperature for February in Santa Clara is 62 degrees.
"The growing excitement around NHL hockey in California hockey, the intensity of last season's playoff series between these teams and the state-of-the-art setting at Levi's Stadium will bring a thrilling new dimension to the Kings-Sharks rivalry," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We thank the Sharks, the Kings, Coors Light, the San Francisco 49ers, Levi's Stadium and everyone involved in producing the next episode of our Coors Light NHL Stadium Series."
"We are honored and elated that the NHL has selected the San Jose Sharks to participate in the NHL's 2015 Coors Light Stadium Series and is bringing this magnificent event to the Bay Area," said John Tortora, the San Jose Sharks chief operating officer. "This event celebrates the growth of the great game of hockey in San Jose and recognizes the incredible support and passion of Sharks fans all over Northern California. We know our fans will bring the electrifying atmosphere of SAP Center at San Jose to Levi's Stadium on Feb. 21 and we are looking forward to showcasing Sharks Territory outside and under the lights."
While news of the game is likely to thrill the Sharks’ fan base, some could view the event as a missed opportunity to host the game at AT&T Park in San Francisco, generally viewed as one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. Still, Levi’s Stadium will be able to host many more fans (68,500 as opposed to 41,503 at AT&T), while football stadiums provide much better sightlines for a hockey game than do baseball stadiums.
Tickets will first be made available to Sharks and Kings season ticket holders, as well as Levi’s Stadium SBL holders, on August 7. Ticket information for the general public will be revealed at a later date.