Sunday, June 16, 2013

MECA Says Outdoor Hockey at TD Ameritrade Park Was a "Hit"

In a story about downtown development, I caught the following little note about February's outdoor hockey game between UNO and North Dakota:

The authority that operates TD Ameritrade is constantly looking for new events, with some success, said CEO Roger Dixon. Outdoor ice hockey in February was a financial hit for both the stadium and local businesses.
In the wake of the February "Battles on Ice", there were a lot of third-hand claims that the event lost money, but apparently that wasn't the case. From my perspective, the UNO outdoor game was a good idea that could be done even better.  Don't try a doubleheader (in case the ice conditions have an issue).  Have the rink available for use for at least a week or two before the game, and actually encourage local teams to use the rink, if only to help season the ice.  Make it a community resource, and even have some public skating times.

It's good to know that the stadium made money on the event.  Certainly the local businesses made a profit. North Dakota fans certainly filled Omaha's hotels, and that's great for the city.

I suspect many of my fellow UNO fans don't want another outdoor game. Some prefer the climate-controlled environment of an indoor environment.  Others simply want it to be an experience reserved for UNO season ticketholders.  And some are still smarting over North Dakota's three-goal outburst that opened the game. Me, I'd love to see UNO back outside at TD Ameritrade Park in a few years. Wisconsin has talked about playing outdoors every four years so that each player who puts on a Badger jersey gets the outdoor experience.  That seems like a decent model.

I wouldn't want to play hockey outdoors every season.  But every four years or so?  That seems like the right balance, and frankly, I'd be looking forward to it.  Outdoor hockey games are simply too cool...

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