T.O. game to stage outdoor NHL tilt

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

EDMONTON -- In the spirit of Hockey Day In Canada comes word the Maple Leafs might stage an outdoor National Hockey League game.

"We don't have a facility in Toronto that would be suitable right now, but when we open a soccer stadium, it would fit the criteria," said president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Richard Peddie, who spoke to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the proposal yesterday.

Edmonton staged the Heritage Classic on Nov. 22, 2003, with the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens playing before 57,167 freezing, but happy patrons at Commonwealth Stadium. MLSEL's new stadium is expected to seat 20,000 and will be built by the spring of 2007, in time for the world youth soccer championship.

"No one has asked about an outdoor game for a long time, but I think it's an attractive thing," Peddie said. "It's a couple of years away, but it's something that's possible."

In the positive reviews that followed the Heritage Classic, Peddie pondered the idea of staging a game at the roughly 50,000-seat Rogers Centre, where he was president and CEO when it was the SkyDome.

"You could do ice there, but I know from experience that it's not a roof that moves well in winter if there's a big snow load. And having it as open as possible is part of the magic of an outdoor game."


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