Minnesota Announces Outdoor Games at TCF Bank Stadium
Gopher Men's and Women's Teams to Play Doubleheader
by Nathan Wells/CHN Reporter
MINNEAPOLIS For years Minnesota has been called the outdoor hockey capital of the United States. Children grow up learning to skate on ponds and outdoor rinks. Despite the state's hockey heritage, it has yet to host an outdoor game.
On Jan. 17, 2014, that ends.
The University of Minnesota and Intersport announced Tuesday (Sept. 3, 2013) that the school will host the 2014 Hockey City Classic at TCF Bank Stadium. The outdoor college hockey doubleheader will kick off with the two-time defending national champion Minnesota women’s hockey team taking on in-state rival Minnesota State at 4:30 p.m. CT.
Afterwards, Minnesota hosts Ohio State under the lights at 8 p.m. in a Big Ten conference battle.
“We are thrilled to bring outdoor college hockey to the Twin Cities and the great state of Minnesota for the first time in the modern era,” Drew Russell, vice president of owned properties at Intersport, said.
The 2014 Hockey City Classic will be a part of a larger Winter Festival at TCF Bank Stadium. Leading up to the doubleheader will include youth, high school and adult hockey events, private ice rentals, a public skate and more.
It will also unofficially kick off the annual Hockey Day Minnesota celebration, which takes place the following day.
This is the second consecutive year the Gopher men’s team has played a regular-season game outdoors. Minnesota participated in the inaugural Hockey City Classic last February at Soldier Field in Chicago along with Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Miami. The Gophers fell, 3-2, to Wisconsin, but it was that experience in Chicago that led the university to bring the event to Minneapolis.
“Last year we had a phenomenal experience in Chicago,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “I know our guys were really looking forward to the game last year. Just the way it was professionally done, we came away from that looking at TCF Bank Stadium, and saying it’s not a matter of 'if' we’re going to have an outdoor game, it’s a matter of 'when.'”
Plans to televise the games are still to be announced although a national broadcaster such as BTN would make sense given the affiliation with the conference and national appeal of the event.
TCF Bank Stadium, which seats 50,805 for football, opened across the street from Mariucci Arena in 2009. Since that time, the demand for an outdoor game has intensified. A rumored game in 2011 against Notre Dame failed to materialize. However, that hasn’t stopped the Gophers from pursuing one.
“I think that there’s no doubt that, come next January, we’re going to have 50,000 people here,” Lucia said. “What I’m really excited about is that we get to drop the puck first (in the state) before anyone else.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of such a great event. We know it’ll be terrific come January, and an event that we’ll remember the rest of our lives.”
Tickets for the 2014 Hockey City Classic go on sale to the general public Oct. 22.