The trend started on September 6, 2001. US college hockey rivals Michigan and Michigan State faced off in the "Cold War", an outdoor game played before 74,544 fans at Spartan Stadium. Since then, it's become a regular occurrence in North America. In Europe, it's been done in leagues in Switzerland, Sweden, and Russia. Last May, the IIHF got into the act, staging a World Championships match in Gelsenkirchen, Germany that drew a world-record 77,803 spectators. Now, news agency ČTK is reporting that it may happen in the Czech Republic.
The proposal tentatively calls for a game to be played at the Pardubice-Svítkov Speedway, which could accommodate approximately 25,000. A scheduled January 2 contest between HC Eaton Pardubice and HC Kometa Brno is being eyed, which would be one day after the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Washington Capitals outdoors at Heinz Field.
"We're working to make our plans become reality," said Pardubice General Manager Zbyněk Kusý. "But it is still premature to talk about this as a done deal. We still have to choose from several opponents and dates. The target for this event is January."
The event, which is scheduled to be discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the (Czech) Association of Professional Ice Hockey Clubs, is budgeted at CZK 10 million (approximately USD 500,000). "The cost for us it is a pretty decent risk. But since we assume a great response and especially from our great fans, we see an event like this as a gift to the people"
Eaton Pardubice currently has Adam Pineault of Holyoke, MA and Jeff Jillson of North Smithfield, RI on its roster. Jillson signed with San Jose in 2001 with a year of eligibility left at the University of Michigan, causing him to narrowly miss playing in the original "Cold War".