The 2020 Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators was a commercial success. There was a sold-out crowd of 85,630 (second-most in Winter Classic history) to go with a noteworthy game; Corey Perry got a five-minute major for elbowing Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis. This resulted in a five-game suspension, hurting the Stars. Dallas still won the game, 4-2, but the win extended beyond the stat sheet. The 2020 Winter Classic itself was a success, proving that everything is bigger in Texas. It also proved that a Winter Classic (or an outdoor game, in general) can be done in a warmer climate.
Now look at a place like Las Vegas. The rap Vegas gets is that it's extremely warm. It is in a desert region, after all. But according to Weather Atlas, the average high in Las Vegas is 57.9 degrees and the average low is 39 degrees. There's also Las Vegas's high altitude, which will account for more frigid temperatures than other parts of the desert. So it's a possibility that an outdoor game could work.
Las Vegas does have some history regarding an outdoor game. On September 27, 1991, an outdoor game in the parking lot of Caesar's Palace happened. It started when Rich Rose, president of Caesar's World Entertainment and avid Rangers fan, pitched the idea.
"I was a New York Rangers fan growing up. To me, the ultimate game was the Kings and Rangers. But the decision (for the Rangers to be the opponent) actually wasn't mine. The Kings had a good relationship with Rangers general manager Neil Smith, which made it easy."
Despite being met with some criticism at first, Steve Flatow, the NHL's marketing director in 1991, liked the idea and picked up on it. Soon, sponsors like Toyota, Budweiser, and Target rolled in and a rink (which cost $135,000) was set up. The sold-out crowd of 13,007 fans saw the Kings score five unanswered goals to win that game, 5-2.
For Vegas to host an outdoor game would be an awesome throwback. Before any of you naysayers say anything about "hOcKeY dOeSn'T bElOnG iN wArM cLiMaTeS", there was three times the amount of refrigeration equipment used for that preseason game. Fabric strips were also used in that game as the lines and a tarp was placed on the ice for days to prevent the ice from melting. Inch-thick Styrofoam insulation was laid across the concrete seven days prior to the event along with plastic sheets and 300 tons of sand.
Yes, there are some drawbacks to the possibility. One being the Pacific Time Zone. This may be a problem since the Winter Classic normally starts at noon EST. However, if you do have a Winter Classic in Las Vegas, you could start it at 8 PM EST. This could especially work as the night settles in and it gets colder. Another issue is obviously the humidity. However, technological advancements can make this a moot point.
Now where would the game be held? You could have it be a tribute and hold it in the parking lot of Caesar's Palace again. Granted, the attendance would be minute with the ticket prices being astronomical as a result. But it would be a nice throwback to that game. You could also use the new Allegiant Stadium as a potential venue. The only few drawbacks would be a lack of historical presence and the possibility of a Raiders game, particularly a playoff game. Sam Boyd Stadium would also be an interesting venue, although it isn't as significant in Las Vegas sports history.
Who would be the opponent. The team that comes to mind (at least to me) would be the San Jose Sharks. Some Knights fans are still a little salty after losing to San Jose in last year's playoffs. Therefore, the rivalry is strong. Another team would be the Arizona Coyotes, but the national audience doesn't care much for Arizona hockey. Other teams to consider include the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks.
The idea of an regular season outdoor game in Las Vegas is an intriguing one. Just the idea of having a hockey team out in Las Vegas was absurd enough, but that happened. Now imagine a Winter Classic happening in the desert.
My life! Food, sports, school. It's what it is!