Columbus will host Detroit in 2025 outdoor NHL game: Source



After years of waiting and wanting, the NHL is finally bringing an outdoor game to Columbus next season, a league source confirmed to The Athletic.

It will be a “Stadium Series” game between the Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, March 1, 2025, in venerable Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State football team.

The Blue Jackets have hosted major NHL events before in Nationwide Arena — the NHL Draft in 2007 and the NHL All-Star Game in 2015 — but an outdoor game is a much bigger undertaking. Arizona, Florida and Columbus are the only three teams that haven’t played in an outdoor game.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has acknowledged for more than a decade that the Blue Jackets — from majority owner John P McConnell on down — have pleaded with the NHL to choose Columbus for one of the league’s outdoor events, either a Winter Classic or a Stadium Series.

The league sent a group of executives, including vice president of creative development Steve Mayer, to Columbus to watch the Ohio State-Michigan State game in Ohio Stadium on Nov. 11.

Mayer told The Athletic then that it was not an official site visit — the league has done those previously in Columbus — but simply a chance for him and others to experience Ohio Stadium at full capacity. The attendance that day was 105,137.

But it became clear in recent months that the Blue Jackets, Ohio State and the NHL were working together to land a game. Mayer and Ohio State facilities manager Xen Riggs spoke openly about the likelihood of landing a game.

The league has held games at many legendary venues in the United States, including Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, and Soldier Field.

This weekend, the NHL will stage two outdoor games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils on Saturday and the New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders on Sunday.

Bettman, in previous conversations with The Athletic, frequently has referred to Ohio Stadium — “The Horseshoe” — as an “iconic” stadium. It was used initially for more than football. Olympic hero Jesse Owens, a member of the OSU track and field team, ran in Ohio Stadium during the 1930s.

For years, Ohio State said it couldn’t host an outdoor game deep into the winter because the Stadium was not winterized for the potentially harsh conditions. For that reason, water was always shut off to the building each year after the final football game of the season.

Ohio State recently committed to spending $600,000 to upgrade and improve the heating system in the building, and the NHL indicated that those changes would be sufficient for them.

The game will be a Stadium Series game and not a Jan. 1 Winter Classic because Ohio State doesn’t want a major event on campus to distract from the end of its football season. That’s increasingly likely this coming season, with college football shifting to a 12-team playoff structure.

It’s possible that the Blue Jackets and Red Wings could set a record for the largest crowd at an NHL game. A Winter Classic game in 2014 between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., drew a crowd of 104,173. On Nov. 26, 2016, the Buckeyes set an Ohio Stadium attendance record by drawing 110,045 for a game against rival Michigan.

The game arrives at a potentially awkward time for the Blue Jackets, who are likely to miss the playoffs again this spring for the fourth straight season. The Red Wings are trying to snap a run of seven consecutive seasons out of the playoffs. They held the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference going into Wednesday’s games.

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(Photo of Ohio Stadium: Ben Jackson / Getty Images)





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