The Los Angeles Kings will travel north to meet the San Jose Sharks in the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series announcement from the NHL, and this one should be interesting considering the battle the Kings and Sharks had in the playoffs last season coupled with the success hockey seems to be having in California on the whole. The two teams have played one another the most times since 2010-11, facing off a total of 41 times in the span including two seven-game series in the last two postseasons.
"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 the announcement. "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."
It should be interesting to see what comes of this game. The Kings are 0-1 in their outdoor appearances, losing 3-0 to the Anaheim Ducks in Dodger Stadium last winter. The Sharks will appear in their first outdoor game in team history, becoming the 19th NHL team to do so. I suspect that the success of last year's game in Los Angeles in the heat and humidity that saw the ice hold up fairly well was a key factor in going back to California with another game.
From the NHL's perspective, the thought of the ticket sales, merchandise sales, and additional revenue made off of 54,099 fans at Dodger Stadium may also have played a major factor in sending an outdoor game to hockey-mad California. Sharks' chief operating officer John Tortora has stated that the ticket prices for this game will range from $65 to $350, with an average ticket price of $150.
Ready for some math?
If Tortora is to be believed that "67 percent of the tickets will be priced at or below the average price", 67% of the total seating at Levi's Stadium's capacity of 68,983 is 46,219 tickets at or below the average price of $150. The average price between the low-end tickets at $65 and the average price of all tickets at $150 is about $108. That means that this game will rake in about $5 million off those tickets priced at or below the average ticket price! Since there are 22,764 seats in the upper echelon of the prices and that average ticket price is around $250, the NHL will also rake in another $5 million off those ticket sales. If we add two and two together, this game will net about $10 million in ticket sales if all 68,983 seats are filled.
Not a bad day at the office, eh? And we haven't sold one jersey, t-shirt, hat, drop of beer, kernel of popcorn, souvenir puck, or anything else stamped with the Stadium Series logo on it yet!
Let's be honest here: the NHL is making major dough off these Stadium Series games. The fact that the Stadium Series is a series means that we should expect a few more announcements as the season nears. That means the NHL is looking at another windfall of cash to line their pockets with as they determine escrow payouts to the players, lockout strategies with respect to monies, and any other party favors they may want. The Stadium Series, the Winter Classic, the Heritage Classic - they're all great for the fans, but the NHL can't get enough of them thanks to the cash flow they generate.
The game between the Kings and Sharks at the brand-new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 21, 2015 will be a great night of hockey. Hockey fans who attend will be treated to a party-like atmosphere that will feature two of the better Western Conference teams in the main event, and those who can't attend will be able to catch the game on NBCSN and/or Hockey Night in Canada.
And Gary Bettman will enjoy another fine season of outdoor games like only he can.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!