NHL “blown away” by Lake Tahoe; Perfect fit to accommodate outdoor games
STATELINE, Nevada – National Hockey League officials wanted a scenic landscape where they could build an ice rink surrounded by snow-capped mountains for maximum visual impact, and Lake Tahoe “does the trick.”
NHL officials said Monday they were blown away by Lake Tahoe and its proven track record of hosting major events.
âWe went to Tahoe, a very small group, and we were blown away by the setting, the blank canvas it presents to us,â said NHL chief content producer Steve Mayer. âIt has already hosted major events. We were very confident, especially in a short period of time, that we would be able to put on a world class event and Tahoe will be a great host. It was a fairly easy decision.
The NHL officially announced Monday that it will host two games on an outdoor rink set up at Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada.
Vegas will face Colorado on Saturday, February 20, and Boston will face Philadelphia on Sunday, February 21 on a temporary ice rink set up on the 18th hole at Edgewood, site of the annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament. The rink will be on the 18th fairway, near the green, and it will take about two weeks to build after construction begins on Monday, February 8, right after Super Bowl weekend.
âWe’re excited to be coming to Lake Tahoe,â NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on a conference call Monday where he officially announced the league’s new event, NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe. âWe were looking for a picturesque and beautiful place with a lake and snow capped mountains. Lake Tahoe did the trick and we are so happy to go.
Tahoe has been picked from multiple locations, including six or seven states and three provinces in Canada, officials said while declining to name the other host candidates.
The relationship that Edgewood and the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority have with NBC and ACC officials also came into play.
âOur strong relationship really laid the groundwork,â said Carol Chaplin, President and CEO of LTVA. âWe knew we could accommodate them this year and meet their needs. “
âIt definitely helped,â Mayer said of the long-standing relationships that helped make the decision.
Chaplin said the process to welcome the NHL was not long and began in the fall.
âWe had phone conversations on Christmas Eve with the NHL family,â said Chaplin.
The golf course offers plenty of space to set up a temporary ice rink and the Edgewood complex allows the league to have a bubble-like environment, which operated during the CCA in July.
No fans will be allowed to attend and players will be subject to strict protocols due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the visuals on TV and on social media are expected to be spectacular.
NBC players, team, league and officials will remain at Edgewood and Harveys Lake Tahoe.
âIt’s really millions of dollars in exposure and we couldn’t have had better approval with the NHL who chose to come here,â said Chaplin. âIt’s something that people can almost touch and feel and approach through television. It’s priceless, we can’t buy this.
As for boaters braving the cold and parking along the shore like at ACC, Chaplin said she would discourage that and it wouldn’t be a good place to look.
“There must be some crazy people going out, right?” Said Chaplin. âBut there will be security and no access, so we would discourage that. It won’t be great to see from there.
Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic returns to Edgewood where he sank a million dollar hole in one at ACC 2011.
âLake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful parts of the world and a great place for an outdoor game,â Sakic said in a statement. âWhile we want our big fans to be there in person, we know they will enjoy watching what will be a great hockey weekend. “
Both games will be played at noon on NBC. The games will be the 31st and 32nd such events since the league began producing outdoor games in 2003.
Along with the ACC, Edgewood hosted the 1985 US Senior Open and the 1980 US Amateur Public Links.
âIf you’re a sports fan, that’s a big deal,â Chaplin said. âWe welcomed the ACC and Amgen, now we have professional hockey to highlight. For us, that means showing the postcard of our destination to millions of viewers.
Bill Rozak is the editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. He can be contacted at [email protected].