The San Jose Sharks will host the two-time Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21, 2015 at the San Francisco 49ers' new Levi's Stadium as part of the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.
"Outdoor hockey is returning to California for a second straight season, the National Hockey League announced Wednesday. This season's game features two teams that have become quite familiar with each other in recent years.
"The San Jose Sharks will be the home team against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Feb. 21, 2015 at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) as part of the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. The game will be broadcast by NBCSN and Hockey Night in Canada.
"No two teams in the NHL have played against each other more than the Sharks and Kings have since the start of the 2010-11 season. They have played 41 games, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the past three seasons, highlighted by seven-game series in each of the past two postseasons.
"The Kings rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Sharks in the Western Conference First Round last season. Los Angeles went on to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons.
"'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. '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.'
"The Sharks will be competing in their first outdoor game; they will become the 19th team in NHL history to play in a regular-season outdoor game. The Kings will be playing in their second outdoor game; they will become the 19th team in NHL history to play in a regular-season outdoor game. The Kings will be playing in their second outdoor game; they lost 3-0 to the Anaheim Ducks in front of 54,099 fans at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25.
"Sharks chief operating officer John Tortora said the success of the game last season at Dodger Stadium played a big role in the NHL returning to California for another outdoor game.
"'During last summer into the fall we had reached out to the National Hockey League and expressed an interest in hosting an outdoor game for the '14-15 season,' Tortora said Wednesday. 'We recognized we had two outstanding venues, Levi's Stadium, which was in the process of being built at the time, and AT&T Park. The League was very interested in coming to Northern California, however at that time they had yet to conduct an outdoor game in a warm-weather market and they wanted to see how that game went last year.
"They also wanted to make a decision on how many outdoor games they wanted to have during the '14-15 season. During the '13-14 season the League had six outdoor games counting the Winter Classic. So, while we continued to to persist, we also waited. Fortunately the game between Anaheim and LA at Dodger Stadium was a big success. That was one hurdle we had to clear.'"
"The choice of Levi's Stadium, it seems, was no slam dunk but pretty close to it. Here's why: The sizzle of playing the game at AT&T Park in San Francisco was a temptation. That would also have provided gorgeous television pictures with the rink adjoining McCovey Cove. But too many things worked against it. Ticket prices would have been significantly higher because of the smaller capacity. And the Sharks are a South Bay team, after all.
"Meanwhile, the 49ers' new home will provide better sightlines for hockey. And just as important, the hospitality areas -- in the clubs and luxury suites -- are larger and more numerous than at AT&T Park, allowing more corporate and high-end customers to attend and feel cool.
"Here's the wild card to me: How many LA Kings fans will journey northward for the game? Tortora thought it would be 1,000 or 2,000. I think he's being too conservative, from what I've seen of the Kings fan base. February 21 is a Saturday night. The Kings are the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"The team's followers are likely to treat this the way college football fans treat a bowl game and turn it into a Bay Area weekend with lots of partying. At last season's Dodger Stadium game, one voice I trust said that Kings fans occupied 75% of the 54,009 seats and Ducks fans only filled 25% of the ballpark.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see 6,000 or more LA fans, maybe even more, at Levi's in February. It'll be interesting to see if the rest of the crowd consists of hockey fans or just big-event fans. But either way, it should be the largest hockey game attendance in California history."