Bronx, NY—The past and current iconic venues located on 161st Street in the Bronx, both named Yankee Stadium, has been the site for many major sports events since the completion of construction in 1923. In addition to being the home of the New York Yankees, the stadiums have hosted football, soccer and boxing.
With the creation of the NHL Winter Classic, an outdoor regular season contest to be played every January 1, it appeared to many observers that it was only a matter of time before the New York Rangers would begin a calendar year at Yankee Stadium.
Although the new event premiered on January 1, 2008 and legendary baseball stadiums, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, have already hosted games, the use of the current Yankee Stadium has been problematical.
The creation of the Pinstripe Bowl, a recently inaugurated college football bowl game scheduled at the end of December at Yankee Stadium, has made it impossible for Yankee Stadium to be transformed into a hockey rink by January 1.
The Steinbrenner family, owners of the new showplace on 161st Street, wishes the venue to be the site of varied, spectacular events. The NHL certainly desires its product to be displayed at the home of the Yankees. The creation of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series allowed both parties to come together to bring NHL hockey to the Bronx.
Two of the four games in next year’s series will be played at Yankee Stadium. A press conference was held on the field of the iconic venue on Thursday, August 8 to explain the particulars.
All three local franchises of the NHL will participate in the historic series of games. On January 26, 2014, at 12:30 pm, the Rangers and Devils will meet in a regular season contest. The three days later at 7:30 pm, the Rangers will return to face the Islanders. Strangely, the New York City team, the Rangers, will be the visitor in both contests as playing a home game at a venue other than Madison Square Garden violates their contract with MSG.
Representatives of the NHL, the Yankees and all three hockey teams were present at the conference to express their joy toward their successful cooperative achievement
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained the circumstances and reasoning for bringing NHL hockey to Yankee Stadium, “The creation of the Coors Light Stadium Series allowed us to work within the Yankees scheduling parameters, and, just as important, include all three NHL teams from this area at this spectacular place. These games will showcase our players and our sport to a national viewing audience [on NBC] as well as to a variety of visitors who we anticipate will be in the area at that time.” Bettman was referring to the Super Bowl being played that week at the Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.
President of the Yankees Randy Levine spoke of another one of the dreams of George Steinbrenner being fulfilled, “In addition to always being the home of the New York Yankees, he [Steinbrenner] also insisted that this [Yankee Stadium] be utilized all year long.” He also remarked about the dreams of all athletes, “Around the world, every little kid, regardless of the sport, wants to play at Yankee Stadium.”
One of the six NHL players at the conference, Matt Moulson of the Islanders, commented about being at Yankee Stadium, “I grew up in Toronto, but I go to a lot of games at Yankee Stadium. When the Yankees aren’t playing the [Toronto] Bluer Jays, I cheer for the Yankees. Every time you come here it’s exciting. We’ll be a little part of the history of Yankee Stadium.”
The two games will attract approximately 100,000 to the stadium and millions viewing throughout the nation.