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How Weather Has And Could Impact the NHL Outdoor Game

The danger of hosting indoor sports outside is that you can’t control the weather. We’ve seen college basketball games scheduled to be played on aircraft carriers get canceled due to condensation on the court. And hockey is no exception—the National Hockey League has run into weather-related problems during both their Stadium Series and Winter Classic games.

The weather, though, has not deterred the NHL from taking the game back to its roots of frozen ponds. Today’s latest installment of the league’s sojourn outdoors will feature the Nashville Predators hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning. Weather impacted the rink’s construction as temperatures north of 70 degrees in Tennessee forced crews to build it overnight, and today’s forecast presents another set of challenges.

Temperatures for the 7:30 puck drop are expected to be in the high 20s to 30s, which is below the seasonal average for Nashville.

Dealing with the weather, though, is simply par for the course for the NHL, and can be mitigated with the right technology.

Recent NHL Weather Impacts

Just last month, the NHL faced weather-related problems in Minnesota when harsh wind chills mixed with bitterly cold temperatures for the Minnesota Wild’s game against the St. Louis Blues. It led to the seemingly counterproductive decision to heat the ice to ensure optimal conditions for the players. The league also made several operational changes, including heating the player benches and penalty box to keep the coaches players warm when they weren’t skating on the ice. The NHL also prioritized the fan experience by making hand warmers available to all patrons and setting up heated areas for fans to stay warm during the game.

Last year, the NHL also moved to Lake Tahoe for a pair of games and during practice, the players noticed the playing surface was a bit stickier and slower in the Nevada sunshine. The league ultimately had to suspend play after the first period of the first game due to the sun and noted that they had been planning based on a “partly cloudy” forecast. When the clouds didn’t arrive, though, the sun’s glare made conditions too unsafe to proceed.

How Teams Can Prepare

Given the freezing temperatures expected for tonight’s game, Nashville stadium operators should take proactive steps to protect players, prepare fans, and optimize stadium crew operations.

Weather intelligence like Tomorrow.io makes this type of decision making a breeze with automated insights, like:

  • Monitor conditions – Stay up-to-date on temperature and precipitation in case temperatures drop lower than expected.
  • Send winter gear reminders Alert fans to warm apparel and bring hats, gloves, etc. for increased comfort during the game.
  • Stock cold-weather merchandise – Ensure that stadium retailers are well stocked with jackets, scarves, hand warmers, etc.
  • Promote hot drinks and food – Stock appropriate concessions to keep fans warm and increase sales.

Stadium operators may not be able to control the weather for games, including tonight’s, but Tomorrow.io can empower them to better prepare for and mitigate associate risks around the forecast.

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