Column: Avalanche hockey at the Air Force Academy? No thanks

A general view during the first period of the Stadium Series hockey game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field. Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Coors Field in February. Sounds awful right? The thought of no baseball, and probably cold as hell seems like it would have been a nightmare for most, but it was heaven for die hard hockey fans.

When the Colorado Avalanche hosted its first ever outdoor game at Coors Field on February 27th, 2016, it was perfect weather for standing outside and watching a hockey game. With a high of 68 degrees that day, it only got down to around 48 while the game was being played. The first of its kind in Denver, hockey fans were thrilled to get a piece of the NHL’s Stadium Series which features various teams playing in outdoor arenas.

The Avs game at Coors Field was a smashing success. Both the regular game against the Red Wings and the alumni game the night before were well attended and everyone who went claimed it was a great experience.

And then nothing.

It was to be expected that there wouldn’t be a game there every year. But as another year passed, there was still no announcement of a sequel to this wildly popular event. Had the notoriously stupid NHL forgotten about the Avs, Coors Field and outdoor games to be played in the Mile High City?

Not exactly. After a four year hiatus, the Avs are again hosting an outdoor game, this time against the Los Angeles Kings on February 15th. That’s the good news.

The bad news is they decided to play it in the football stadium at the Air Force Academy. Bad news? Yes. I’m thrilled the Avs got another outdoor game, I’m just not thrilled about the location.

For one, Colorado Springs is far and getting there, especially in adverse conditions is an unholy nightmare. Do you like road construction? Because I-25 south to Colorado Springs has plenty to satisfy you. If an elk turd blows onto the road, it will back up I-25 for miles. Never mind if there’s an accident, you won’t even get down there.

The Air Force Academy is beautiful, but if you’ve ever seen a football game there, it is harder to get in and out of than a trendy Denver restaurant selling taco’s for $8 a pop. I went to see Notre Dame play – which will have similar numbers of people coming from Denver – and it took so long to get there, I peed in several bottles and had plenty of time to dump them out on the side of the road. But that’s another story.

And forget trying to leave. Attempting to exit after that game was like wearing a blind fold and trying to get through Coors Field Fourth of July crowds on a unicycle. It’s an absolute cluster fest and will only be worse because of the amount of people expected for this event. When Air Force is playing Colgate, I’m guessing it’s not too bad getting out of there, but for a game of this magnitude, get comfy in your car because you’ll be in it for awhile.

Coors Field was the perfect spot because it’s centrally located and most of the Avs fans are spread around the metro area. By having this in Colorado Springs, the NHL in its wisdom is expecting people to travel a whole lot farther to get there. In cars. Where as a game in Denver could utilize mass transit, the road to Colorado Springs will be nothing but a parking lot with cars from all over the front range. I’m sure there are plenty of Avs fans in the Springs, but the bulk of the people will be coming from the north. In droves.

I’m sure they’re just trying to spread the wealth on where to have outdoor games, but this will be a bad experience for anyone trying to get down there. If they want diversity, they can play it at Mile High one year and Coors Field the next. Boulder was even mentioned as a destination as well and even though that’s not exactly a central location, it’s still easier to get to than Colorado Springs.

As someone who really enjoyed the Coors Field Avs game, you can count me out from going to the AFA to see this game. And shockingly enough, it will be nationally televised on NBC so there’s no need for me to suffer. Coors Field was a great time that I wish any fan of hockey can experience. It’s just too bad the NHL can’t figure out what’s best for its fans and have it in a place that isn’t a pain in the ass.

My guess is this will be a minor disaster and the next outdoor game, hopefully before we’re all dead and buried, will be back in Denver where it belongs. If you’re going, have fun. But have plenty of gas in your car and plenty of bottles to pee in. Aim high.

SHARE