Outdoor hockey could one day be played in one of college football's most historic venues, Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick said to Chicago Tribune outdoor hockey could take place in Notre Dame's football stadium but says nothing should be expected any time too soon.
"I think there will be a time and place to do this at Notre Dame Stadium," Swarbrick said Sunday to The Chicago Tribune. "It's not imminent. It's nothing soon. But doing this once a year is great for the kids."
Swarbrick's comments as Notre Dame's hockey team was playing Miami (Ohio) in the an outdoor hockey game at Chicago's Soldier Field, the Hockey City Classic. It was the first opportunity Notre Dame has had to play outside, which gave Swarbrick an up-close look at how an outdoor hockey game played in a football stadium is organized and put together. Swarbrick has been doing his homework on the idea as well.
The first outdoor hockey game played since the Cold War was played in Michigan State's Spartan Stadium, between Michigan State and Michigan. Since then multiple outdoor hockey games have been played at the collegiate and NHL level. The NHL's annual Winter Classic, which was postponed in 2013 due to the league's lockout status, offers a number of opportunities for college programs to play outside. In 2010 Boston was the first to open up the Winter Classic ice to additional games. Boston College and Boston University faced off in a Frozen Fenway doubleheader with the women's teams from Northeastern and New Hampshire.
According to the report by The Chicago Tribune, Swarbrick had spoken with the people involved in organizing the NHL Winter Classic in Boston.
"It's a major undertaking," Swarbrick said. "As I say, there's nothing even remotely planned. But I just think somewhere down the road it'll make sense for us."
The Big Chill at the Big House, in Michigan Stadium, holds the record for highest attended hockey game. 113,411 people attended the 2010 outdoor contest between Michigan and Michigan State. A game in Notre Dame Stadium would have a chance to be the second highest attended outdoor hockey game if organized.
The 2014 NHL Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs is scheduled to be hosted by Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014. The game was originally to be played in 2013 but was postponed due to the NHL lockout.
Outdoor Hockey played in College Football Stadiums
An outdoor game at Notre Dame Stadium is far from a reality at this stage, but the odds may be pretty good that if and when it is scheduled the opponent may be longtime football rival Michigan. The Wolverines have played in almost every outdoor college football game played in a college football stadium.
October 6, 2001: Spartan Stadium - Michigan State 3, Michigan 3
February 6, 2010: Camp Randall Stadium - Wisconsin 3, Michigan 2 (Men); Wisconsin 6, Bemidji State 1 (Women)
December 4, 2010: Michigan Stadium - Michigan 5, Michigan State 0
Connecticut’s Rentschler Field has hosted the most outdoor hockey events, with five games being played in 2011. The Whalers Hockey Fest featured a pair of NHL Alumni games accompanied by three college games.
February 13, 2011: Connecticut 3, Sacred Heart 1 (men)
February 13, 2011: Providence 4, Connecticut 3 (women)
February 19, 2011: Providence Bruins 5, Connecticut Whale 4 (AHL)
February 19, 2011: Hartford Whalers Alumni 4, Boston Bruins 4 (NHL Alumni)
February 19, 2011: Army 4, AIC 1 (Atlantic Hockey)