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The San Jose Sharks are expected to host an outdoor game in the Bay Area next season, multiple sources have told CSNBayArea.com.
The venue has not been decided, but will either be AT&T Park in San Francisco, home of baseball’s Giants, or Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, where the NFL’s 49ers will begin play for the 2014 season. Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto is no longer thought to be among the options.
The Sharks’ opponent for the game is also yet to be determined.
AT&T Park would probably be the better option for both the league and the Sharks. Known as one of the most picturesque stadiums in the country, sitting on the edge of the San Francisco Bay and what’s known as McCovey Cove, it would provide breathtaking visuals for a national broadcast much like NHL games at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in the past. It could help the Sharks to grow the game locally in the San Francisco area, and be easier to fill to capacity, as AT&T Park holds 41,503 fans as compared to the 68,500 seats at Levi’s Stadium.
Earlier this year, Giants team president Larry Baer told the San Jose Mercury News that it had "preliminary discussions" with the Sharks about bringing a game to AT&T Park.
“Our ballpark would be perfect,” Baer said. “A lot has to happen with the NHL and how these things get planned, but we’d love to do it. We think it would be a great partnership. We have a fair amount in common (with the Sharks) in the way we approach presenting our games. I think it would be an easy marriage and great for the fans.”
The NHL hosted six outdoor games in 2013-14, including the annual Winter Classic, but commissioner Gary Bettman has already said there will be fewer such “Stadium Series” games next season. The Washington Capitals will host the 2015 Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at a venue yet to be officially named, but is likely to be Nationals Park, according to reports. The Sharks’ outdoor game would be later in the season.
The Los Angeles Kings hosted the Anaheim Ducks in an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, in an event that was considered a resounding success despite temperatures hovering in the lower 60’s. The league took that into consideration before deciding on another warm weather locale.