A few days ago, I saw a tweet that advocated for the Bobcats hockey team to play an outdoor game within the confines of Peden Stadium, where traditionally only football is played.
— Trevor Wilson Patton (@twpatton34) January 16, 2018
I saw this tweet and immediately thought of the Winter Classic from January 2014 when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium.
It had been the first time a college football venue had hosted a professional hockey game, and quite honestly, it’s brilliant.
Ironically enough, that’s exactly how Ohio got its start as a program. Well, sort of.
Students back in the '50s would play hockey on the nearby Hocking River until funds put toward a new athletic facility built Bird Arena, which eventually became the home of the Bobcats.
For 60 years, Ohio has played every game it’s ever played as an established program indoors. But, if some resources were pulled, could the Bobcats play an outdoor game?
Everything has a price tag to it and clearly, playing an outdoor hockey game is no exception. The aforementioned NHL game cost the league $10 million, which included rent, setup and maintenance.
Where Ohio differs from an NHL-hosted event is clear — it’s a college club team, not a professional one.
That really means that Ohio wouldn’t have to “rent” Peden, as it’s a university property being used by a university-affiliated team.
Without having to pay rent, the cost of putting on such an event goes down marginally. Yet, it’s not cheap to put an ice rink overtop of a turf field.
Where there’s cost, usually a profit follows and an outdoor game is no exception. The Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs game netted a revenue of more than $30 million and totaled a profit just more than $20 million. The two biggest money makers for such an event would be advertisements and merchandise. To get their names out there for something such as an outdoor hockey game, businesses could potentially bring in more traffic, especially for local establishments. Merchandise would also be a large selling point as either team could display T-shirts designed specifically for the event, and the university itself could sell general Ohio apparel at the event.
Prominence and popularity
It’s mentioned earlier that Michigan Stadium hosted an NHL Winter Classic, but it’s not the first time that college football stadiums have hosted hockey events. In 2010, the University of Wisconsin hosted the Camp Randall Hockey Classic where both the men’s and women’s teams played in Camp Randall Stadium and won their respective games in front of record-setting crowds.
Granted, Wisconsin hockey programs are NCAA affiliated, so it would be easier for resources to be compiled to make such an event happen.
That said, Ohio fans would fill Peden in droves to see the team play an opponent such as Robert Morris-Illinois or Lindenwood.
Unfortunately, the reality of Ohio playing an outdoor game is pretty minuscule, and it would take years for even a purposeful conversation to take place.