According to ESPN and NHL Network Analyst, Kevin Weekes, the Tampa Bay Lightning might be taking things outside for the second time in their franchise history.
After playing the role of the visitors last year in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium against the Predators, the Lightning may be doing so again next year in Tampa as hosts. The Lightning are rumored to be hosting the Battle of Florida against the Florida Panthers at Raymond James Stadium.
As Weekes mentioned, these are just rumors at the moment and there are lots of factors in play. But if this story is getting out, you can just about bet that it is going to happen.
Obviously the biggest factor in play will be the weather. If you were not aware, Florida does not particularly fit the bill for an outdoor Hockey climate, even in the Winter. But with the technology the league has, it is possible.
For past outdoor games, the magic temperature to be able to have appropriate ice would be in the mid to low 50’s. That temperature is certainly possible on any given day in January or February here in Tampa. Additionally, the game will almost certainly be after dark as well.
A huge challenge will be selecting a date. These dates are selected well in advance and you will have no chance of knowing what the weather will be like. It can be in 80’s just as easily as it could be in 50’s so this will come down to some sort of luck. The league will surely do extensive research and will be ready for any sort of circumstance that may come up.
This would not be the first outdoor game hosted in a warm weather climate. The Los Angeles Kings hosted the Stadium Series in 2014 at Dodger and faced temperatures in the low 60’s. The league was able to make the ice hold up well enough.
In 2021, the NHL took things to Lake Tahoe and ran into issues related to sun glare that led to poor ice conditions and a significant delay despite having cold enough temperatures.
To say that the NHL would have their hands full with this would be a understatement. But the potential to have a sold out Raymond James would be an unparalleled exhibition of Hockey in Florida.