SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — The National Hockey League is putting a twist on its annual Winter Classic outdoor game.
This year, there will be two games, which will be played on Feb. 20 and 21. Both games will be held in South Lake Tahoe.
With the games a week away, preparations have been underway since Tuesday at Edgewood. They are transforming the 18th hole at a snow-covered golf course into a hockey wonderland.
“You know, the lake and the mountains, this surrounding speaks for itself,” said Steve Mayer, NHL chief content officer. “I mean, that’s the set design.”
The game of ice hockey was born outdoors on the frozen ponds and lakes of North America. Next week’s games held in South Lake Tahoe will focus on those roots.
It has, however, been a challenge to build the outdoor venue.
“You have to have the infrastructure of an NHL game. Video replay, stats, you know, the operational tools that we have in our arenas,” Mayer explained. “So, we had to bring all the wiring in and all the technical in.”
The ice needed for the rink is another issue they had to solve. They started to make it Friday night, but it won’t be ready for several days.
“We’re hoping that by early next week that what will look exactly like a rink will take shape, take form,” Mayer told FOX40. “And we’ll be ready, certainly by mid-next week to put people on that ice.”
Teams arrive Thursday and will expect to get a couple of practices in before the first game Saturday.
The NHL put the event together in about two months’ time, but they also believe that holding it in South Lake Tahoe, with the spectacular views of the south shore, will truly be a memorable sporting event.
“We made the trip to Lake Tahoe in December and the old expression, ‘You had us at hello,’” Mayer said. “We’re hearing the buzz. We think this is going to be an incredible event. I think the proof will probably be afterwards in terms how our fans took to this game, our sponsors and how we were able to execute and pull it off.”
The Feb. 20 and 21 games will not allow any fans.