After a wildly successful Stadium Series this season in the NHL, the race to host outdoor hockey games has been intense across the league with every team wanting in on the fun.
We know that the list of games will be more exclusive than this past season as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has already indicated there won't be six outdoor games again (including the Winter Classic) but more likely around four.
One of those games, we know, will be in Washington DC for the Winter Classic. Where exactly and against whom remains a mystery but the tentative plans are set. As to the Stadium Series games, well those are just guesses right now.
The San Jose Sharks are expected to host an outdoor game in the Bay Area next season, multiple sources have told CSNBayArea.com.
The venue has not been decided, but will either be AT&T Park in San Francisco, home of baseball's Giants, or Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, where the NFL's 49ers will begin play for the 2014 season. Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto is no longer thought to be among the options.
The Sharks' opponent for the game is also yet to be determined.
San Jose/San Francisco being likely to host a game shouldn't come as a surprise. They have been hot to trot for outdoor hockey for a while now and especially after the success in Southern California with the Dodger Stadium game last season, they were desperate to bring the fun to Northern California too. Certainly the much cooler Bay Area would be a bit more friendly to ice-making ... if rain stays away.
AT&T Park seems like it would be the favorite to land a game, certainly the Giants have expressed plenty of interest in hosting a potential game. The park has quickly become one of MLB's gems and not to mention it has hosted a number of other events including an annual college football game.
Which cities might be in the running for other games? Denver remains a strong candidate given the title sponsor of the Stadium Series (Coors) is based out of Colorado and other cities like Minneapolis, Phoenix, Dallas and Canadian cities interested in the Heritage Classic, are going to be in the conversation.