|Imagine a rink on that field? Could be pretty awesome. (Getty Images)|
The city of Chicago has already seen outdoor hockey thanks to the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. The Blackhawks and Red Wings played arguably the best of the outdoor games in the NHL thus far.
It went so well that outdoor hockey is coming back to the Windy City. Two games, in fact.
Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Bears, will play host to two NCAA games next February despite the fact that none of the state's schools will be represented. One matchup will feature the Notre Dame Fighting Irish taking on the Miami RedHawks. The second bout will have the Minnesota Gophers battling the Wisconsin Badgers. That should be some good hockey.
Of course the NHL will be playing on a college campus this year as the Winter Classic goes to the University of Michigan. So there is a small ironic twist there.
There has been a steady increase in the number of outdoor games in recent years. Heck, they are going to play games in Croatia on the shores of the Adriatic Sea in an old coliseum. The fear of the novelty wearing off is being tested to the max.
But as long as it's not the NHL trotting out the games, I don't think it does much damage. That's where the fear of the novelty wearing off comes in: People like watching these outdoor games, they don't want to not enjoy them anymore. So getting much less publicized games that aren't NHL contests seems like a good compromise to me. I'll be interested to see these two games and I'm sure a ton of other people will too, especially in Chicago.
NCAA hockey is a good brand of the sport that is getting better all the time yet doesn't get the pub it deserves. Doing events like this, a double-header at a great football stadium in a major city will only help spread its reach. As far as I'm concerned that's also a good thing. If nothing else it allows fans out there to see some of their favorite team's top prospects that might be plying their trade in the NCAA still.
Considering the average high in Chicago for February is 35 degrees, the weather shouldn't provide too much of a challenge either. Should be fun.