Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Outdoor Rink Nearing Completion at Ivor Wynne as Bulldogs Go Outside: Bulldogs and Marlies Preparing to Go Outdoors

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Outdoor Rink Nearing Completion at Ivor Wynne as Bulldogs Go Outside: Bulldogs and Marlies Preparing to Go Outdoors

Article excerpt

The vision is close to becoming a reality.

As Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer sat through the NHL's Heritage Classic outdoor game at McMahon Stadium last February, all he could think about what hosting a similar event in his own backyard.

"I believe that the game out in Calgary really touched home with him," Ed Chamberlain, the Bulldogs vice-president of sales and marketing, said in a recent interview. "Our owner approached me and said he was at the Heritage Classic last year and that he really wants to put an outdoor game in Hamilton.

"He said `I think it would be unbelievable.' ... And here we are."

The Bulldogs are scheduled to face the rival Toronto Marlies at Ivor Wynne Stadium -- home to the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats -- on Saturday afternoon.

The temporary ice surface was built by Ice Rink Events and saw its first action Monday, with staff from the two American Hockey League teams and members of the media given a chance to test it out. The Marlies and Bulldogs are also planning to practise at Ivor Wynne this week and an alumni game is scheduled for Friday night.

"We're going to try and use it as much as we can," said Chamberlain. "The more people skate on it the better the ice gets. It gets stronger."

The game marks the second time the AHL has taken its product outdoors in a matter of weeks -- and the fourth time overall. Adirondack and Hershey played before a sellout crowd at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park on Jan. 6., four days after the NHL's Winter Classic.

Like the NCAA and NHL, the AHL is an enthusiastic supporter of such events.

"Our experiences have been outstanding with outdoor games," said AHL president Dave Andrews. "The players, coaches, officials and fans see the events as unique celebrations of the sport.

"While the NHL Winter Classics and our AHL outdoor events have been televised, very few fans in most locations have ever had the chance to experience them. …

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