The Winter Classic Won't Be The First Major Foray Outdoors For Vegas

The city of Las Vegas has a deeper outdoor hockey history than you'd think. In fact, it goes back decades. Here's a look at where the roots in Vegas hockey were planted.

Las Vegas Shows Support For Vegas Golden Knights During Stanley Cup Playoffs Run
Las Vegas Shows Support For Vegas Golden Knights During Stanley Cup Playoffs Run / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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1. September 27, 1991: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings

Fountain Sculpture at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
Fountain Sculpture at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino / Richard Cummins Photography, Inc./GettyImages

To understand Las Vegas's outdoor history, we must go back to where it all began. The exhibition game on September 27, 1991, between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings was the first of its kind. The NHL never hosted an outdoor game in its history and the idea seemed a bit ludicrous.

Still, that didn't deter Rich Rose, president of Caesars Sports World, from proposing the idea in 1988. His idea was laughed off by most of the NHL brass, except for one man: Steve Flatow. Flatow, the NHL's marketing director then, loved the idea and proposed pairing his beloved Rangers with the Kings for the event.

Having two of the biggest markets in the game was perfect for a big event in Sin City, after all. Everything was set up, contacts were made, and we had ourselves an outdoor game. In came the corporate sponsors such as Toyota and Budweiser as well.

But there was a blazing hot problem with the event: the temperature was too hot for the outdoor game. Like 85 degrees Fahrenheit hot. To combat this, the NHL had to use more refrigeration equipment than usual. Not only that but fabric strips were put in place of painted lines for the rink.

Still, the event was a hit. Over 13,000 attended the exhibition game and the Los Angeles Kings won, 5-2. The impact of the game was felt in many ways in the future, with various events (and a team) following.