"Winter Classic" ice hockey project back on track after all
Plans for HIFK-Jokerit local derby and Finland-Russia international in the Olympic Stadium
It now appears that there will after all be ice hockey played in Helsinki's Olympic Stadium this winter.
The SM-liiga side Helsinki IFK (HIFK), the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, and the Stadium Foundation wil issue a statement next Monday on the matches to be played.
According to information gathered by Helsingin Sanomat, on February 4th, 2012 the Olympic Stadium will be the venue for an SM-Liiga local derby between HIFK and rivals Jokerit.
Five days later, the venerable venue will host the opening match in the LG Hockey Games, the Stockholm component of the Euro Hockey Tour event, and the two sides in action will be Finland and Russia.
For some time it looked as though last season's venture would be a one-off, owing to fears about what damage would be done to the stadium's grass infield by placing an ice rink on it.
Finland's national football team will be playing a friendly in the arena at the beginning of June (possibly against one of the teams taking part in the finals of the UEFA European Championships), and the Stadium Foundation was at pains to make sure the grass was in perfect condition by then.
It would now appear that a solution to the problem has been discovered, and the Stadium Foundation managing director Maija Innanen confirmed that an answer has been found and that further details will be given on Monday. She made no further comments on the so-called "Winter Classic" event.
In the match played last February, more than 36,600 packed into the stadium to see HIFK beat the then hosts Jokerit 4-3.
The attendance set a new Nordic record, eclipsing the 31,144 set in Sweden in 2010.
Public ice skating events, which were arranged in connection with the hockey extravaganza, were also attended by 8,500 city residents.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Saturday-night hockey fever in the Stadium (8.2.2011)
HIFK prevail as ice hockey fans fill the Olympic Stadium (7.2.2011)
“Winter Classic” ice hockey may not be organised this coming season (12.8.2011)