When Michigan State coach Ron Mason first proposed the idea of holding a hockey game outside in Spartan Stadium there were several logistical problems that needed to be worked out with Michigan coach Red Berenson before they could even start thinking about playing.
Among them were tickets sales, lighting arrangement, and quality of the glass boards. Both coaches also wondered, with neither Yost Ice Arena nor Munn Ice Arena seating more than 10,000 people, how they would be able to fill the 72,000 plus Spartan Stadium.
“The whole thing started out as a joke, but then it turned into reality,” Mason said. “We never believed in our wildest dreams that it would happen.”
Before the summer was out, all questions about tickets had been answered. From the opening bell, it was clear that everyone wanted to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. After just nine days ticket sales were at 61,000 sold the 11,000 remaining seats were earmarked for Michigan State students and season ticket holders.
“I think this is a golden opportunity that you don”t get that often,” CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos said. “This is kind of the Woodstock of hockey and gives us a great platform that we can promote college hockey on.”
When they first held the press conference in sweltering summer heat, the other question on everyone”s mind was how good the quality of the ice would be on a warm October 6. With the temperatures having dropped into the forties, the concerns about have turned more towards foul weather which could potentially force Michigan State to cancel the game.
In addition to lightning, any type of rain or fog that will inhibit on-ice vision would force the game to be rescheduled
“You are restricted in a light mist because of the glass visors (on players helmets),” Notre Dame head coach Dave Poulin said at Tuesday”s CCHA media day.
“You don”t have the option of a windshield wiper, so it creates a different wrinkle,”
Scattered to moderate showers have been forecast for the middle of next week along with temperatures in the mid-sixties. If the game is cancelled on Saturday, Michigan State has set Sunday, Oct. 7 as the makeup date for the game.
If Sunday”s make up game is cancelled, then Michigan State must reschedule the matchup for some time later in the season inside Munn Ice Arena.
If the game cannot be played outdoors, both programs would face a significant loss in ticket sales revenue. But Michigan State will also have to shoulder the burden of paying for the rink”s installation.
Michigan State officials have estimated that a rain out could cost the school $500,000.
While the teams could meet as many as four times in the regular season, this game is the only one scheduled to be played in East Lansing.
The game is slated for a 7:05 p.m. face off on Fox Sports Detroit. It would be the season opener for both Michigan and Michigan State.
In addition to being shown locally, the event will be broadcast into 38 million homes across the United States and Canada. But due to previous contractual obligations, the game will be broadcast tape delayed on the other Fox Sports affiliates.
“I give a lot of credit to the university for all they have done,” Mason said “We took a huge risk, and it has paid off “