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NHL Stadium Series returning to California in February 2015?

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Will the recently opened Levi's Stadium host hockey next year? (USATSI)
Will the recently opened Levi's Stadium host hockey next year? (USATSI)

More NHL Offseason: NHL rumors | Rumor mill | Trade Tracker | 2014-15 preseason odds

The NHL has no announced plans for an outdoor game outside of the confirmed Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks on January 1 in Washington, D.C., but that doesn't mean they won't have an announcement or two later.

After the rousing success of outdoor hockey at Dodger Stadium last winter, could we see outdoor hockey in California again next season? It appears so.

According to Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy blog, Ticketmaster.com had a live link for tickets to the "2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series" game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers located in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015.

A source with knowledge of the event later told CBSSports.com the outdoor game between the Sharks and Kings at Levi's Stadium will happen on February 21. The source did not confirm if there are plans for other outdoor games. It is unclear when the announcement will be made.

The leaked link was up for three hours on Saturday and allowed fans to buy tickets according to Puck Daddy's tipsters. The page, which can be viewed here, now says “Sorry, but this event no longer exists in our database.”

Here's the photographic evidence via Puck Daddy:

The two teams are already scheduled to play on February 21, with the game set for NBC and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. This game also takes place during USA Hockey's Hockey Weekend Across America, which coincides with NBC's “Hockey Day in America” coverage, utilized to highlight hockey's impact in the United States. It's an ideal weekend for such an event to take place as part of celebrating the game across the country.

Reports earlier this summer pegged the Sharks as getting an outdoor game in the near future. Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reported in June that the Sharks were expected to host an outdoor game in 2015, though it was expected then the game would be held in AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

With the rousing success of last year's Stadium Series game in L.A., it was believed the league would head outdoors again in other venues outside of the annual staple of the Winter Classic. No such plans were announced with the league's schedule however.

From a league standpoint, there's no reason not to try this again.

Going to Northern California for the second go-around with a game featuring a pair of in-state rivals and the defending Stanley Cup Champion at a brand-new, 69,000-seat facility seems like a pretty decent idea. Whether or not they could sell out that game remains to be seen, but coming off the success of last year's Stadium Series which also featured games in Chicago and New York City, it would be worth it to try again.

The ice holding up is no longer a concern after getting through Los Angeles last year without too many issues. In fact, there were more stoppages in Chicago due to excessive snow than there were in L.A.

Levi's Stadium held its inaugural event Saturday, an MLS game between the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders. It was kind of like a soft opening for the building to give everything a test run before the NFL club moves in. There were a few issues, as to be expected, mostly tied to traffic and public transportation. The 49ers will open their home preseason schedule on Aug. 17. The official NFL opening of Levi's is going to be on Sept. 24 when the 49ers host the Chicago Bears.

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