According to a CHN staff report, the Fenway Sports Group and the Boston Red Sox are planning on another "Frozen Fenway" event with the goal of playing more hockey at America's Most Beloved Ballpark.
"We are deep into the planning phase for the possibility of a return of Frozen Fenway in 2014," said Red Sox executive vice president and chief operating officer, Sam Kennedy. "We will need to secure proper city approvals and complete our negotiations with the many teams who are interested in competing before we will have any formal announcement."
In 2010, the Eagles played in the first Frozen Fenway event when a rink was put up for the 2010 NHL Winter Classic. Boston College fell to Boston University 3-2. Two years later, Hockey East returned to Fenway with a men's hockey doubleheader of Maine-New Hampshire and UMass-Vermont. Boston College faced Northeastern a week later on the same ice. The Eagles won 2-1, the first victory of 2012 that led to a streak of 20 victories in 22 wins and the program's five National Championship.
For last winter's event, HEA commissioner Joe Bertagna made a point of mentioning that the conference wanted to spread the wealth as far as seeing different programs getting the opportunity to skate under the lights at Fenway. If Bertagna and Hockey East is looking to do just that in 2014, that would likely mean a doubleheader that includes Providence, Lowell, Merrimack and newcomer Notre Dame.
But for this event to be a success, you have to think that one or both of Boston College and Boston University would be involved. Likely both as an opportunity to pair BC and BU together in a third regular season, non-conference matchup. With the league likely moving back to 20 conference games next season with the addition of Notre Dame, Bertagna and HEA should be looking for ways to recoup the loss of some of these meetings between the Big 4. This event could achieve just that goal.
If, however, Boston College is involved but has to give up their only home game against BU, or one of their two home games against Notre Dame, this idea is a nonstarter for me.
The other question I have is if Boston College is involved, will you go? Or are Eagles fans suffering from Frozen Fenway fatigue? In my opinion, outdoor college hockey games have jumped the shark a bit with more and more of these events coming up over the past few years. This type of event hardly seems unique anymore. When UConn played Sacred Heart in an outdoor hockey game in front of a thousand or so fans, you've probably taken this type of event too far.
I just wonder whether FSG and the Sox will continue to see decreasing returns at the gate for Frozen Fenway. The announced attendance at the 2010 BC-BU game was 38,472. It took all four teams' fans to hit a similar number -- 38,456 -- two years later, but neither game appeared sold out given the tickets were good for both games of the doubleheader. The following weekend, BC-Northeastern drew just 29,601.
I attended the Frozen Fenway event in 2010 and the sight lines are terrible. It was certainly a unique experience as far as college hockey goes -- and the beer sales more than made up for the fact that we had to watch the center field JumboTron to watch the game. But as far as hockey venues go, Fenway isn't all that it's cracked up to be.