Kings, Ducks set to play Saturday at Dodger Stadium

STEVEN HERBERT, City News Service
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A worker walks past the event banner at Dodger Stadium prior to the 2014 NHL Stadium Series hockey game at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

A worker walks past the event banner at Dodger Stadium prior to the 2014 NHL Stadium Series hockey game at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A capacity crowd of 55,000 is expected Saturday at Dodger Stadium when the Los Angeles Kings face the Anaheim Ducks in the first outdoor regular-season NHL game played in the United States west of the Mississippi River and the southern-most.

“This will be a sporting event like no other that has ever been seen in Southern California,” said Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille.

The game starts the five-game NHL Stadium Series, an attempt by the league to broaden its following and bring hockey to the masses. The remainder of the series consists of games Sunday and Wednesday at New York’s Yankee Stadium, March 1 at Chicago’s Soldier Field and March 2 at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Stadium Series was inspired by the league’s Winter Classic, an outdoor game played annually on New Year’s Day since 2008, in such northeast outdoor venues as Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field, drawing huge crowds and hockey’s largest U.S. regular-season television audiences.

Players have often had to battle snow, cold and wind in those games, factors that won’t be present Saturday. The temperature is forecast to be in the mid-60s at 7 p.m., the approximate time of the opening faceoff, dropping to the low-60s or high-50s by the end of the game, according to the National Weather Service.

The regulation 200-foot by 85-foot rink will be placed in the infield, with one goal near first base and the other by third base.

A street hockey rink will be next to the hockey rink, with players from the Kings and Ducks NHL Street hockey programs playing on it before the game.

A stage at home plate will be used by Jordin Sparks, the 2007 “American Idol” champion, to sing the national anthem and for a performance by singer/songwriter John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting during the second intermission.

The stage will feature a special design by the tattoo and graffiti artist known as Mister Cartoon and children from the Los Angeles-based nonprofit group Para Los Ninos.

The stage in right field will feature pregame and first intermission performances by the legendary rock band KISS. Olympians Kerri Walsh, April Ross and Phil Dalhausser will be among the players playing before the game and during the first and second intermission on the beach volleyball sand court in left field.

“Our goal with the NHL Stadium Series games is to give our fans an unforgettable experience,” said NHL Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Brian Jennings.

Center field will feature palm trees and a pond with the Ducks logo on the bottom. A sand sculpture of the Kings logo will be embedded in the beach volleyball sand court.

Celebrities from entertainment and sports are expected to attend the game, including actors Will Ferrell, Jon Hamm, Jason Bateman, Matthew Perry, Alyssa Milano and Hilary Duff, game show host Pat Sajak, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.

Before pregame festivities begin at 6:55 p.m., a hockey and entertainment fan festival will be held from 3:30-6:30 p.m. in the left field parking lot. It will include live musical performances, a tailgate party hosted by Coors Light, interactive hockey-themed attractions, prizes and giveaways, an opportunity to donate blood, and sales of food, beverages and Stadium Series merchandise.

To accommodate its outdoor games, the NHL designed and built a one-of-a- kind, 53-foot, 300-ton capacity mobile refrigeration unit that pumps as much as 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant into custom-made aluminum trays that are configured on the field of the stadium.

Running through a series of hoses from the refrigeration unit to the field, the glycol chills the trays to keep the ice near its ideal surface temperature of 22 degrees.

Following the placement of the ice trays, the rink boards are installed. Once the boards are up and the ideal surface temperature is attained, the actual process of building the ice begins.

Conventional tap water is used for the ice, which is 2 inches thick, compared to approximately 1-1.25 inches for arenas, to help withstand the elements, according to Dan Craig, the NHL’s senior director of facilities operations.

Water is added as slowly as possible, in as fine a mist as the process will allow. Workers pass a spray wand over the ice rink hundreds of times in an attempt to provide a more-even freeze and better quality playing surface. Each inch of ice thickness requires approximately 10,000 gallons of water, Craig said.

For finishing touches, the ice surface is whitened using approximately 350 gallons of water soluble paint. The lines and logos then are painted and placed on the surface, with more ice built on top.

Following construction of the ice, it is constantly monitored with a system called “Eye on the Ice,” embedded in the surface. It provides updates on temperatures at different areas of the ice, signaling an alert, prompting the need to pump more glycol or engage the in-line heating system in case the weather gets too cold.

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