FLYERS-PENS AT BEAVER STADIUM? ANYTHING TO CHANGE TO SUBJECT!

By Lewis Gould

Why does it seem that the National Hockey League spends more time on its plans and execution of Winter Classic and other outdoor novelties than it does on the sport’s real issues?

Do the suits in New York think that a league that settles tie games with shootouts instead of real overtimes is just fine the way it is?

I know the outdoor games are bright, shiny objects, and that’s what today’s sports culture is all about.

But, really?

For the Flyers, who are ending one of the worst and most boring and predictable seasons in their history, outdoor talk makes sense.

Anything to change the subject from Craig Berube and his cast of underachieving clowns.

A Flyers executive was asked earlier this month if the organization’s years-long quest to play an outdoor game at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium was ever going to come to fruition.

The response:

“Why not?”

Exactly.

Former Flyers president Peter Luukko began pushing the NHL to make this happen circa 2010 and now chief operating officer Shawn Tilger is trying.

At the Flyers’ town hall meeting at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, Tilger reportedly told fans that the club now is pushing for a Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins outdoor game for the 2016-17 season, which would be the 50-year anniversary for both franchises.

Onwardstate.com reported in February that an obstacle to a hockey game at Beaver Stadium, home to Penn State football since 1960, is the school acquiring a liquor license to sell alcohol during the event.

The NHL was able to get a one-day liquor license for its one previous outdoor game at a college venue, the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.

According to Bernie Punt, the Bryce Jordan Center’s Director of Sales and Marketing, “it’s very possible” that Penn State could obtain something similar.

“Normally the lack of a liquor license would present an issue, but this temporary license helps us avoid that issue,” Bernie Punt, director of sales and market at PSU’s Bryce Jordan Center, told onwardstate.com.

An announcement either way probably won’t come until January.

The NHL announced this past January that next season’s Winter Classic would involve the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., home of the New England Patriots.

The Flyers and Penguins would be the perfect matchup for a game at Beaver Stadium, which is just 137 miles from Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center and 197 miles from Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

An outdoor game at Beaver Stadium, which seats 107,282 for football, probably would attract a record crowd for a hockey game. The current record is 105,491 for the game at Michigan Stadium, a 3-2 Toronto Maple Leafs’ shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 1, 2014.

The Flyers and Penguins have been involved in a combined five outdoor games since the league started playing them regularly in 2008.

The Flyers have played two Winter Classics, both in baseball ballparks. They lost 2-1 in overtime to the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park on Jan. 1, 2010 and fell 3-2 to the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Park on New Year’s Day 2012.

The Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout in the first Winter Classic in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, then lost 3-1 to the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field and were whipped 5-1 by the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field in a 2014 Stadium Series game.

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