Bringing an outdoor hockey game to Carter-Finley Stadium was one of Tom Dundon’s top priorities when he bought the Carolina Hurricanes. Is that (presumably cold) day any closer? Yes and no.
The NHL’s events team made a site visit to evaluate Carter-Finley in September, Dundon said, which he categorized as “progress.” He also conceded whatever ends up happening won’t have the fanfare or league branding as an official Winter Classic game, but rather something the Hurricanes essentially do on their own with league approval.
“I want the outdoor game for our fans, our market, our community,” Dundon said this week. “Traditionally, the Winter Classic is more for a national audience. We’re not ready for that. We haven’t earned it.”
While there remain some logistical issues to work out with N.C. State, none appear insurmountable and a date in January or February of 2020 seems feasible at this point.
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Dundon enumerated many reasons he thinks it would work even without the Winter Classic branding -- tailgating, the proximity of Carter-Finley Stadium and having a “great partner in N.C. State” -- but also the suitability of Carter-Finley Stadium itself.
“The sightlines in that stadium, because there’s no track around it, you’re close, it’s awesome,” Dundon said. “The NHL is excited and we’re excited and then we’re not dealing with national perception. Because we’re not doing it for them. We’re doing it for us and our fans.”
An N.C. State spokesman said the university and athletic department both remained supportive of the idea and willing to cooperate with the Hurricanes and NHL on the event.