The American Hockey League’s continued pursuit to ensure hockey continues to boom out west, has resulted in a second consecutive Outdoor Classic featuring two teams from the newly formed Pacific Division.
The Bakersfield Condors will entertain the Ontario Reign at the Memorial Stadium, home to the Bakersfield College Renegades football team.
Opened in 1955 and with a capacity of 19,000, the football stadium will host a 18 day ‘Winterfest’ including attractions such as a public outdoor skating, youth and adult hockey tournaments, a 220-ft zip line, live music, obstacle courses and many events for children.
Two rinks, one regulation size and one smaller “studio” rink will be set up and the event will conclude with Edmonton’s and Los Angeles affiliates doing battle on the ice on Saturday, January 7, 2017.
The ice will be set-up by “Rink Specialists” who have a ton of previous experience in this field, having managed Toledo Winterfest at Fifth Third Field, Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park, last seasons Golden State Hockey Rush in Sacramento and Frozen Fenway at Fenway Park.
A video documenting the set-up of the latter is well worth a watch:
Details are still a little sketchy with no announcements regarding special jersey’s to be worn or whether the game shall be televised but the one certain thing is that it won’t be setting any attendance records.
Seating is only available at the sides of the rink, and with tickets priced from $35-$65, some fans may need to be convinced to pay extra than for a normal home game to ensure a capacity crowd..
Last years Golden State Hockey Rush in Sacramento, also featured Bakersfield, who were hosted by Stockton.
There were issues, with the game having to be switched from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.
When play finally got underway, moisture building up on the glass meant some fans had trouble following the action, and there were issues for the TV camera’s.
Those are often the foibles of an outdoor event and some would argue that’s part of the charm of such a spectacle.
As for the ice, despite a few issues leading upto the game, it played pretty well, with Ben Scrivens even commenting that he was surprised by the good conditions and citing neither team could have complaints about the surface impeding performance.
This will be the ninth AHL Outdoor Classic in the league history, with the first played as recently February 20, 2010, with the Binghamton Senators and Syracuse Crunch doing battle at the New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse, NY.
The largest crowd for an outdoor AHL game is the 45,653 patrons who packed inside Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to watch Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms.
Only the Hershey Bears and Toronto Marlies have played two Outdoor Classics (though not facing one another) with the latter the only team to have won both games.
Bakersfield Condors shall become the first team in AHL history to play in two consecutive Outdoor Classics, with this the second straight event in California.
Seven of the previous eight games have been decided by a single game with two overtimes and three shootouts required in those.
We may witness plenty of rivalry in the stands for the ’Condorstown Outdoor Classic’ with fans of the Ontario Reign and those in Los Angeles, just a two hour or so drive away from rooting for them team on the road.
Certainly Bakersfield will be hoping for fervent home support after winning just four of twelve games against Ontario last year, but those did include two shutout victories on home ice.