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The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is crammed with all kinds of sporting events, not the least of which is the New Year’s traditional 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, featuring hockey (Chicago and Washington) playing outdoors, this time at the Washington Nationals stadium.
The outdoor series started as a made-for-TV New Year’s tradition in 2008, and since then has become one of the most popular and most-watched NHL games of the season. It’s spurred a similar Canadian series, the NHL Heritage Classic, and has NHL teams asking to either host, or take part in the series.
These so-called “gimmick games” aren’t anything new, but they do emphasize the point that sometimes a change of venue can give new life, and bring new fans, to any sport. Basketball has been played on aircraft carriers and on the stage at Radio City Music Hall, even outside in the desert in the dead of winter. Collegiate hockey (as well as the NHL) has been played at the “Big House” of Michigan Stadium.
Golf balls have been hit off decks and docks and tennis has been played on the top of skyscrapers (as promotional stunts); Wrigley Field and Fenway Park have been the hosts for college football games in recent years and Yankee Stadium holds the annual Pinstripe Bowl.
Don’t have a beach to host the pro volleyball tour? No problem. For the AVP stop in Cincinnati two years ago, sand was trucked into the middle of the street and bleachers were set up on the sidewalks and voila, sand volleyball!
All this is to say, don’t hesitate to look at your facilities in different ways for different uses. Several years ago when the organizers of the Las Vegas Bowl weren’t able to use the stadium’s suites for hospitality, they took the end-zone space, put up a tent, brought in lounge chairs and big-screen televisions and created their own field-level exclusive hospitality area which became even more popular than the traditional suite box.
By looking at venues with a new, creative eye, sometimes you can make an event an even more exciting experience and bring in new fans at the same time. Make 2015 the year of maximizing your venues for the best experience possible.